I have been thinking. (And somewhere at least a few people are saying “oh no, not again…)
Unless you are a giant narcissist, among the hardest things for women to do is put themselves first.
Putting yourself first is a form of a boundary, and it’s hard sometimes to stick to boundaries.
With me it’s hard sometimes. People are always messaging me at all times, and even with Do Not Disturb set up on my phone, it doesn’t always work.
I like to be available for my friends and family in particular. I am always willing to listen and more. But not everyone reciprocates. I discovered that the other day and it actually stung a bit. So that got me to thinking, if I don’t put myself first even with friends and and family, it won’t happen.
I rarely am the one who reaches out and wants to talk. Usually, I am the one who listens or is a sounding board. Well, I have made the decision that I am slowing my roll there. I reached out and it made me want to be an island going forward. I understand life happens, and we all get stressed out, but still. Now it was nothing terminal to any sort of friendship, but it was something learned for me. It made me pause.
The other thing is this: women are sometimes not clear on expectations. Basic things. With themselves and with others. And if you aren’t clear, and someone doesn’t get it and then you get annoyed, whose fault is it really? We don’t read minds, and I have been guilty of this as well. I don’t like asking for help, for example, so when I do ask for help with something it feels awkward. Just like the occasional need to lean on others for whatever reason. There is the feeling of not wanting to stumble and fall, but we need to reach out at times.
Being clear can be on other things like an invitation. If you aren’t clear it leaves gray area and someone ends up with hurt feelings. Which is why I always include an RSVP request when I mail out invitations. And when people ignore an RSVP, it’s just not good no matter if it’s yes or no. Or when someone invites you to do something and then they fall off the face of the earth and evaporates. You don’t want to follow up and feel like you are imposing yourself, but it does get annoying when someone calls and asks you to do something on X date, you tell them you are free, they say they will follow up, and the follow up? Never happens. I have had this happen quite a bit with a couple of people, and I don’t want to be rude, but they asked me to put the time aside and then it was “poof.”
Also working from home, or for yourself. That is a tough balancing act some days. Especially when someone who is not work related calls and you really want to talk to them, but you know you really don’t have the time. It’s hard to say no and establish and maintain those boundaries.
And expectations. If you aren’t someone who keeps mental book, you don’t necessarily guess what someone expects from you or when. But that is also in that category of reading minds. It’s like giving gifts. I give them because I want to, not because I expect something back. Some literally keep track. Even I do it sometimes with family, and I don’t mean to. But when you agonize over buying someone the perfect present, and they don’t reciprocate, it is hard. So then I have to remind myself to knock it off because I got them a gift because I wanted to.
And this is all women, right? If men do this we read them the riot act. But women? We seem to accept and perpetuate these things. Part of why we don’t say anything is we don’t want to seem like a bitch, which then of course leaves to storing up little bits of hurt like squirrels with acorns.
I have the bad habit of storing up hurt acorns like a squirrel. I don’t want to offend people and sometimes it is simply so hard to talk about these things.
So I have decided to go back to not storing all these things up. It is not healthy. I would like to think we all try to do right by people, but it is human nature that doesn’t always happen.
We can learn thing from narcissists, and that is to put ourselves first or at least not sacrifice our sense of self. It’s not an exact science, sadly, unless you are quite selfish by nature. We don’t want to all become utterly narcissistic, just learn not to feel bad for putting ourselves first sometimes. It’s o.k. to do this and to tell people they could have done better with you, because they would probably tell you the same thing.
Well that is all for this mental ramble. Enjoy the beautiful day!
Writer and blogger Julie Powell has died. At 49, from a heart attack. I am actually truly sad about this. She was unique and I loved her writing style.
You also have to understand, Julie Powell and I never met in person. We were Facebook/Twitter peeps, and we did (do) actually have real people we share in common. So we were connected in that way.
I was a huge fan of her book, Julie & Julia which became a movie of the same name that I have also watched so many times.
I also was a reader of her blog. I could identify with the dead end jobs in NYC, as I had a couple of those there. I could also identify with trying to discover who I was and wish people wouldn’t look at me strangely or whatever when I say I am a blogger. Ironically, we started blogging at the same time. It was new, and people weren’t doing it. Our subject matter was different, I am not saying I am as good a blogger, writer, or anything like that, I just remember the early days of blogging…and Twitter.
Her blog was real, and sometimes raw, much like her social media musings. The blogging AFTER her original blog became a book ran from 2005 – 2010. (/http://juliepowell.blogspot.com/). I read that too. As an early person on the blogoshpere, I followed and read a lot of people. This was something not everyone was doing back then, and it certainly wasn’t the purview of mommy bloggers and more, like the people with the seemingly perfect lives and headshots and photoshoot photos taken solely for social media.
Because of Julie, I figured I would try Julia Child recipes. I figured why not? You see, although a lot of Julia Child’s recipes aren’t that complicated, her recipes can be intimidating. But through Julie Powell, I learned Julia Child. Shall we say, this is the woman who humanized Julia Child?
Julie Powell was found more on Twitter than Facebook. She didn’t really seem to be especially enamored of the Metaverse, and often said so. All these years later, I still enjoyed her musings even in first 140 characters or less, and then 280 characters or less. She could be insightful, outrageous, funny, sad, self-deprecating, and always her own fearless voice.
And Julie liked to cook. I think that is cool. So many people have these giant, glorious kitchens and most are just for show. They don’t even get their ovens dirty. When she was blogging from her apartment with it’s teeny tiny shrinky dink 4 burner stove a lot of that time, so was I. I had the same stove, only mine was white. I even had similar steel wire shelves for storage. And the same apartment sized refrigerator. Honestly, I produced some amazing meals in my shrinky dink kitchen, and she was luckier than I, because she had a gas stove.
Through her online musings we learned of her own human frailties, and I so admired her courage to be honest. I especially respected her ability to say she was feeling anxiety and depression. As a woman, that’s hard. Society may say they wish every woman everywhere to be utterly themselves, an original, but really they don’t want to see it. The reality of a woman being herself often makes others too uncomfortable.
I can speak from personal experience there.
My readers and even my friends might think they know all about me, but they don’t. I have learned the hard way that women still can’t be too honest about how they are feeling, especially on social media. We are supposed to have these picture postcard lives and perfect families, and more. You post a no makeup photo or express you are sick of certain things and it’s voila! Instant social media and more irritation. I often wondered if Julie would get the “I can’t believe you posted/wrote that.” messages and phone calls. Sometimes people post just to vent, ya know? It’s not all about you out there, it’s about them in that moment, not necessarily requiring attention or a comment.
Her second book after Julie and Julia was Cleaving. I think that was a book harder for people to read because it was a deeper journey into her world and marriage.
She recently had COVID. She wrote about it on Twitter. And today I noticed how god damned cruel and awful people are being. There should be a special place in hell for their literal inhumanity.
I am really sick of how people think they can be on social media. Cheering that someone is dead? And then of course, they call themselves “Christians.” She was a human being.
When you write whether as a blogger, a regular writer, reporter, or just a person, people are only O.K. with what you write if it matches THEIR comfort level. That is another reason WHY I admired Julie Powell. She spoke her truth, even if it did not make you 100% comfortable. She had a particular grace and honesty. Even if I was only part of her virtual world for a few years, I am glad I was there.
Why people connect with each other on social media is something I always find sociologically fascinating. So why do you connect?
Take Facebook and Instagram. I connect primarily to maintain relationships with friends and family I don’t necessarily see as often as we did when were younger. Even former teachers. And friends of my parents and other relatives I am connected to.
In addition to the school and familial ties, there are the other friendships and relationships I have made along the way. Friends I have made as an adult, former work colleagues, neighbors, and people in the communities in which I have lived past and present.
I am not connected to people because of what they can do for me. I connect with people I like or feel a personal connection to. Sometimes that means the extended friends of friends.
When I like a business and follow their “pages”, mostly it’s because I am a customer. I will like a friend’s business page because they are my friend. That’s not the same as saying I’m promoting their business because they are my friend, because I don’t really promote businesses. If I put my blogging hat on, I’m not a compensated blogger so I like to stay out of gray areas.
When I speak about a business, it’s because I am a customer. Mostly it’s when I am a happy customer. But not all of the time. Sometimes I speak about a business to ask people if they’ve used it or gone to a specific restaurant, for example.
Sometimes when I speak of a business on social media, it has been when I didn’t feel valued as a customer or had a truly negative experience. Sometimes the business is a big business or a utility company. But when customer service is truly lacking, sometimes that is your only option to get things made right, isn’t it?
But what I don’t do is the whole disingenuous of it all. I don’t connect with people on social media because of what they can do for me. So maybe that makes folks with an emphasis on marketing confused, or makes them wish to have their heads spin around, but I actually do try to keep it real.
Facebook and Instagram is also where I follow things that connect to my interests. Traveling, although I don’t do much of that. Gardening, cooking, movies, TV or streaming shows, vintage and antique items like Christmas ornaments. Also things like decorating. I love to see what some of them do with rooms. It’s interesting. Especially if they don’t decorate for a beige, beige world.
I also will use Facebook and Instagram to keep up with nonprofits I like, and organizations I belong to which are nonprofits. Or magazines, blogs, and newspapers I read. Social issues. Local issues. Sometimes beauty products, but that doesn’t mean I will post about everything I like or buy. And you have to be careful with things like beauty products because suddenly they will show up in your feeds everywhere as ads, even if you didn’t invite them.
When it comes to a platform liked LinkedIn, to an extent that is kind of a mystery. I have never been particularly sure of the value of the platform. It has some crossover with other platforms, but in the sense of a lot of the same people I am connected to elsewhere. It’s a platform where I always find it amusing on who is “looking at me.” And that usually is linked to something I have written – people connected to politicians, developers, utility companies, people from companies that shouldn’t be utility companies and so on.
It’s not like some one wants to reach out via LinkedIn and offer me a dream job or gig or give me a million dollars. LinkedIn is where a lot of people go to spy, looking for that “gotcha” moment or dirt. You know, much how people view Facebook?
Twitter is something I discovered in the platform’s early days vis-à-vis community activism. I have kept up with it as a way to keep track of issues and the news, but it’s also a platform where some of my long term friends are found who shun Facebook and Instagram. It’s also a place where I keep up with gardening and cooking.
Sometimes I don’t go on Twitter very often. Like during the years a certain person was president. I found the site much more palatable after they removed him. However it doesn’t mean that his children of the corn don’t lurk and spread their vitriol and misinformation, so sometimes I pass Twitter by because of that.
Twitter is one of those places where I don’t get overly personal kind of like LinkedIn , but I observe when people use it as their outlet. I don’t even know who a lot of them are in reality, it’s just their place to express themselves.
Like everyone else on the planet, there are days where I spend far too much time on social media. But it’s not my sole thing. And I don’t use it to portray a life that doesn’t exist, either. I don’t use it as a tool to be a social climber. It’s just sort of an appendage to the modern world.
I think sometimes we all need to lose the appendage of social media and live in real time. Disconnect. Connect with other human beings more meaningfully.
And yes there are lots of other platforms I didn’t mention. But if I don’t belong to them, how do I have a basis of knowledge to comment about them intelligently. Or there are others I belong to that I use so rarely, they don’t warrant discussion.
Why did I write this post? I’m not really sure. It just sort of popped into my head this morning.
I will preface this post with this isn’t about anyone or any one thing in particular. This is something I have been thinking about. A meandering mash up of things.
In part this is about the nature of friendships and relationships, a lot of what I have been thinking about in part are relationships between women. Now these can be family members who are female or they can just be female friends. But I look at my male friends and they’re pretty consistent throughout our aging process. But the women? Not so much a lot of the time. Women can be hurtful friends. Even when that is not the intent. I am sure I have been guilty of this behavior myself.
Men in my opinion as friends will take you for who you are male or female, be less judgemental, and are upfront if something is bothering them. I will include a caveat and say sometimes men you are in intimate relationships or marriages with may be less open, but I think that’s because of a difference in those relationships to begin with. I actually will leave my own husband out of that category because he is who he is, and is very consistent and upfront with how he is feeling. But then again, sometimes I wonder if part of the way my husband is, has to do with the fact that we’ve known each other for so long and were friends first, or just because that is the way he is? I don’t know but I am grateful he is by my side.
I will admit that I am tough as a person at times. As in I can be tough on people. But I am very devoted to my friends, family, and others that I care about, so when I can’t understand certain behavior, and I seek clarity, but feel like a proverbial door gets shut in my face, I find it hard. I am not saying life is always about me, but what I am saying is sometimes the delivery or expression of what someone is trying to say, sucks. And again, not saying that I am not also capable of this or excusing my personal behavior. These are observations.
I have discovered over the past few years that a lot of the way my relationships have evolved, is I am the person people come to when they need someone to talk to. I keep my own counsel and if I give my word I keep my word. It is an honor to be a trustworthy friend/human being, but I have found sadly as I’ve aged that not everyone reciprocates similarly. Not everyone keeps conversations that are supposed to be private to themselves, and there are some people where conversations are sort of a one-way street, as in when they want to have one it’s cool, not when you might need to have one.
On occasion, I am the one who just needs to talk; needs someone else to listen. Reaching out when that occurs, is not something I just randomly do, so when I do and I feel shall we say, unheard by those who should know me pretty well, it’s not fun.
Sometimes I also find myself having basic trust issues with people, who I feel very guilty about having trust issues with. But I don’t know how to articulate it any better. Especially since COVID, a lot of people are just going through stuff. So I have discovered people don’t necessarily think the same way as they once did. The communication changed and we were all by ourselves for so long that sometimes I think people will just say whatever and have lost the ability to filter.
And the reason I’m writing about this now is I’m finding myself in situations where I’m a little unsure. Sometimes you just feel like you’re doing all of the emotional giving, with little receiving when you need it. It’s hard when you put your proverbial toe out to try to test the water to talk, and it’s like others are not available. Or don’t want to be available. And sometimes it feels hurtful, even if that is not the person’s intent. And well I think no one intentionally wants to be overly sensitive, I think this is a byproduct of all the alone time during COVID.
Now part of the problem with me personally I’m sure is I’ll open my mouth about politics and social issues and I’m not shy or reticent in my opinions in general. But if you’ve known me even briefly, you know that about me. Also as a blogger, I have had people say to me that they couldn’t possibly be friends with me because I am a blogger. Seriously.
There are people who no longer think I am worthy to be friends with since they realized my politics aren’t precisely theirs. They went from people I used to do things with and swap Christmas cards with to complete crickets. I don’t wish them ill, but they know where I live if they ever decide I am worthy again. But sadly, I feel they were but a season in life. You know that old phrase about people being in the categories of reason, season, and lifetime? Sometimes we just have to move on, even if we really don’t want to.
But also since COVID a lot of people have pulled in on themselves and aren’t as communicative. I can also say that about myself honestly, as well. I find that I’ve pulled in a bit. Maybe that’s because we all had to spend so much more time on our own, and perhaps it’s all about getting used to being around people again? Or has COVID made us all a little bit more selfish? Or has COVID just reset the clock a bit to perhaps more the way we were before social media?
In that vein, I can’t control how other people feel or their actions. And I know that I can only control my own actions and reactions. But still I have questions, I have doubts, and I have human frailties. Sometimes, right or wrong, I feel like I’m not supposed to have any of those in the eyes of others.
And then there are the perfect strangers who contact me every day, often all times of the day and night about things going on. I’m not just a blogger, I’m a human being. I have my own life. Sometimes it would be nice for people in general just to say “Hey how are you doing?” I can’t tell you how long it’s been since somebody has asked me something as simple as that.
If we are talking about me simply as a blogger, I like being able to help people when I can. I like being able to help people promote their events. But when I promote an event, generally speaking I have a connection. Either I know people involved with the event, or perhaps it’s just something I support and attend. I am not compensate it in any way when I do something like this I am just paying it forward.
Similarly when I write about an issue, it’s because it’s something I have discovered and I have an interest in. I am not compensated when I decide to do something with an issue. And again, it’s the whole paying it forward because there are so many things in our communities that don’t get any airtime they don’t see the light of day. When it comes to the issues then sometimes people like it, sometimes they don’t.
Recently I had somebody who was a perfect stranger contact me via another person whom I really don’t know to ask me to promote an event. An event was basically happening the next day. I did not reply. And I just didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t write about it, I didn’t share any links on social media about it, I just let it go. One reason was I wasn’t invited to the event in the first place. And I’m not paid to do these things again nor do I expect payment, but it’s also at times a simple question of feeling respected. And if you couldn’t invite me in the first place, yet you contact me in the 11th hour as an total stranger to promote it to save your bacon, how do you think that makes a person feel?
And then after the fact, you discover you did know someone involved with the event, who should have been the one reaching out to ask if I would do something, but then they would have had to have apologized for behavior less than friend worthy a few years ago when who you quietly just let go of that relationship. But this is a person who has left many bodies in their wake in their personal quest for social acceptance and basic climbing, and it will be a while yet before they realize that all of it came at a cost, and eventually they will be alone at the top of their solitary hill, wondering where their actual friends who didn’t care about their somewhat more humble past went? Honey, we’re all still here living our lives without you. We enjoyed your company, would have kept you as a lifetime, but you made yourself a season.
To promote an event or a local issue is not my actual job. As in I’m not paid to do any of this . I do things as the spirit moves me. And most of the people know who know me well know that it’s not a big thing if I decide not to cover something, it’s just not my jam. Yet some people if I don’t cover something, take it very personally. And they often forget the basic premise of I just write because that is my jam. I am not a compensated blogger, and I actually pay to have an ad-free site here.
Maybe sometimes what I’m finding confusing or what I’m actually lamenting are what we were raised with as far as social norms and niceties. You know, manners. A sense of right and wrong.
Also having style is not merely an outfit you wear, it goes a little deeper. Or it should.
One of the other things I’ve noticed since COVID are shall we say boundary issues. People will contact you at really odd times of the day and night. It could be people you know, people you work with, people who are strangers. It’s like all the stuff you learned as a kid growing up regarding when it was polite to contact someone and when you should wait for the following day and so on and so forth is simply gone.
Other seemingly simple things like saying thank you for something. Or sending an actual thank you note. How many of you out there feel like older than dirt because you still send thank you notes I know that you should send them? and that is something I get mad at myself when I don’t take the time for a proper note I just call or text. I know I wasn’t raised to do that. I know I was raised to sit down and take the time and write a note. And I have the note cards and stationary. (Note to self: use your stationary more, it’s a dying art form.)
And then you think about work relationships. How many people now have noticed how work relationships have changed since COVID ? Is it just me or does it seem like work from home also translates to a lot of people that you should be available 24/7/ 365? Is it work to live or live to work? And what about the people who either don’t understand what work from home means, or only want what they want on their schedule, forgetabout yours? I mean sometimes it’s easy to make a mistake because you don’t know what someone else’s schedule necessarily is, but other times is it a mistake?
As our world changes are we supposed to change with it or try to keep some of the niceties we were raised with in today’s world? I don’t know the answer. And it’s something I wish I knew the answers to. It would sometimes make the playing field a little more level or understandable.
Or at the end of the day there could be some things I just quite simply take too personally. And that’s a flaw. But I don’t think so. But I do think about it. Anyway as always, I like to write it out to try to figure things out.
And then there are the sobering realities of life that just make you think and pause.
Two of my friends became widows this year. Neither is old enough to be a widow.
Someone else I know has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and needs a transplant to live. And he’s got so much life left to live I am so upset. (Read about this here and share.)
Finally, another friend is rushing to their brother’s bedside, whom I also know. The family is about to say good-bye to a tremendous human being.
Sometimes I wonder what God is trying to teach us while I marvel at the pond scum who blithely inhabit this earth while good people suffer and even lose loved ones. Sometimes if I am honest, I struggle to see the beauty in this world, and remember life’s blessings, I actually really DO try to remember why we are here on earth. But as human beings is it just too much work to be the best we can be all of the time? If so, what is the solution?
I am open to conversation here, because I really would like to know how people feel about some of these topics I’ve raised today in this post.
Stay dry and have a cup of tea. It is the perfect weather for that!
I have been re-reading the Delia Owens book Where The Crawdads Sing. The book was optioned for a movie and I wanted to reread it before I see the movie, which is now newly released. Not that I am going to rush to see the movie right away, but I will eventually because I love the book.
The cover of the book declares it “a murder mystery, a coming of age-narrative, and a celebration of nature.” That is practically a dumbing down of the novel. It is so much more than the obviousness pitched on the cover to sell copies to the masses. It’s also about isolation and acceptance.
This book took the author a decade to write and has been sitting for 168 weeks on the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. It’s a haunting book, and a twisty-turny one for sure. But there are so many nuances. The main character is Kya.
Kya is a product of a dysfunctional Southern family riddled with issues and abuse. Her father beats everyone and is a crazy alcoholic and World War II veteran whom today probably would have been diagnosed at a minimum with PTSD. Eventually, Kya’s multiple siblings and her mother leave. They leave a then rather little girl with a dangerously abusive man, her father. Kya is also treated horribly by her community at large, a victim of nasty small town gossip, prejudice, and bullying. She is a poor white kid in a small town who lives in a marsh.
This Kya is called all sorts of names. Marsh Girl, missing link, marsh trash, dirty. She goes to school for like a day and runs away from it because the kids are so horrible. She is an outcast, an outsider. A few befriend her including member of the small black community who know all well the reality of prejudice and racism, and that is how she learns to read, take care of herself. Through these people she is introduced to a book publisher as she gets older because of her nature watercolors and accounts of wildlife living in and around her on the marsh. Her life experience, what she knows.
A lot of the book shows you the aching loneliness of a human being who only wants to be seen and loved. Her friends whom she actually trusts are the wild things in the marsh. Kya grow up naïve, world weary, mistrusting. Always the outsider looking in and so alone. People like that live among us every day. The people most don’t take the time to get to know.
The undercurrent of any human being’s need for acceptance is something that flows throughout this book. That got me thinking.
I remember growing up, I often felt like I didn’t fit. And I was by no means an outsider or outcast. I began to contemplate it when I was at Shipley, which then was predominantly WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) and some of the people I went to school just came from these families with insane money and pedigrees going back centuries. I was average middle class and had a vowel on the end of my name and was Catholic. Where many were blonde and blue eyed with adorable figures and killer equestrian and other sporting related genes, I had dark hair and was distinctly average. And it wasn’t that people weren’t nice, most were even if some weren’t. But it was sometimes it was like, where did I fit? Or was I just thinking too much and over-thinking? Probably. It may have been the experience before Shipley that caused that.
I had experienced that whole not fitting most acutely and didn’t know really what it was when we first moved to the Main Line from the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. My parents plunked me in Welsh Valley Junior High School, part of the esteemed Lower Merion School District.
Welsh Valley in my day was a hot bed of some of the meanest mean girls who walked the earth to this day. I wasn’t called “Marsh Girl” but I was called “City Girl” with derision and often. And I was bullied a bit. Even as I made friends, I was bullied and simultaneously watched the girls who were friends with me get a hard time sometimes because of association with me. And for what? I was new, didn’t fit into their then molds of having all mostly known each other since kindergarten. It didn’t just happen to me, and I knew many girls and boys they were just as miserable to. These were girls who literally just did this for the sheer sport of it.
I actually didn’t buckle to those girls, although the one who went to school with me but was a year behind me did make me come close in Sunday school. Yes, Sunday school. We lived in the same neighborhood at one time, and everything was fine until my mother bought me a pair of French jeans and a narrow wale corduroy jumper from a store in Ardmore where young to mid- teen and tween girls shopped. It’s been so long I forget the name. It was down the street on Lancaster Avenue from the Army-Navy.
I had not seen the clothing on anyone. These were styles everyone was wearing, and pretty much every girl I knew or knew of then shopped at this store in Ardmore. So I wore the jumper to church and Sunday school one Sunday. This girl literally came after me during a break in Sunday school. I remember I just kept moving to get away from her. She was yelling at me, trying to hit me. She was taller than me too. Yelling mainly that I was a copycat (‘take it off”) and worse. Yes…she happened to be wearing the same jumper…in a different color. I had never seen her wear it. Our mothers must have bought it at the same time. She had a sister in my class. She was a quieter more calculating version of her younger sister. They left me alone in school, and came after me in Sunday school. I remember my mother thought I was making it up at first until other parents kind of said “Oh THOSE girls.”
This was just one example.
No one ever stopped them. The other mean girls were the Monday through Friday variety. They were even worse. They were especially delightful during lunch period and gym. I was grateful that my parents let me go to Shipley. There I found my fit and my footing, but sometimes I just felt odd man out, like I didn’t belong. But Shipley at least gave me the courage to see the junior high bullies for what and who they were. And I remember being very amused by some of the attempts of a few of them to quasi friend me when I was a junior and senior in high school because one of the cute high school jocks they liked to chase was my neighbor and we were friends. Of course, that was a foreign concept to them to be friends with a guy. For the most part, they were what my friend’s grandmother would describe as being fast and having round heels. I didn’t quite get the round heels reference at first. Like I said, I was naiive. But I knew enough to be amused by the false offers of friendship, and to keep my distance. However, I did learn a valuable lesson then: throughout your life there will people who will always need you more than you need them.
This whole not quite fitting at times doesn’t end with middle school or high school. It exists with adults and has become more prevalent in the age of social media. Take for example, this woman who is all over social media and in her business model about how important it is to lift up and support other women. Anyway, she is on this thread mocking another woman, a stranger to her, over a local fundraising calendar that was like the UK movie Calendar Girls. The comments are nasty, sexist, ageist, sizeist. Their target was a woman who is not size four skinny with Botox, breast enhancements, tons of makeup always, hair extensions, or Come-F-Me pumps. She is an actual real woman who is truthfully pretty, smart, and nice…but outspoken.
Outspoken always gets punished. Outspoken never quite fits and I know that first hand. It’s like yawn, why be so predictable…yet they are predictable and practically run off of a script. Similar to sniping at me, another stranger from a strange land to them.
These are the people in today’s world in general who seem to find it their mission to make everyone not them not fit. They are the only ones whose acceptance in this world should matter. Basically pick a year, a decade, a century and you will find people, especially women like this. They exist to wound. Be mean. You don’t fit in whatever notion they have of the big, wide word and society.
A couple of years ago I heard a story of a woman who was then a new breast cancer survivor who had horrible complications. Another survivor, supposedly a “friend”, offers her clothes she was finished with because she lost weight. But she was neither nice nor kind about it. More like “Here I won’t need these fat clothes any more.” Took my breath away hearing that. Just gratuitously mean, and again from a woman who supposedly likes to tell people how wonderful she is and supportive of other women.
As an adult, I have experienced the don’t quite fit at different stages of adulthood. First when I was among those who didn’t get married and procreate right away. It just wasn’t in the cards at first, and guess what? Some of those who were the harshest of that brand of critics are now all divorced at least once. And about the having no kids naturally out of my womb of it all? Couldn’t have them. Knew that early enough on in my life. It bothered me at times, but then it just didn’t because it was simply beyond my control.
Then I experienced the don’t quite fit when I moved to Chester County. At first it was because I was new and some folks had been around forever between their lives, and the lives of family members. Then it was because I was living with someone and not married. Yes, really. How do people have so much time on their hands to do this crap to other people?
Slowly over time, I have been accepted by some, not all. Ironically those who accepted me first are a lot of the people a generation or two above me who are long term residents of Chester County. Just nice, decent people. Also slowly over time you learn to let go of the negative feelings caused by the non-accepting. But you also learn over time it is O.K. to stand up for yourself and tell them what they are doing is not acceptable if you want.
But still, not everyone is accepting. It’s life. I ran into it again recently. Very hurtful, and caught me by surprise because it was unexpected. But it’s mostly because they have never met anyone like me that can’t just be put into a comfort category and left there. I am also outspoken. I stand up for myself. Standing up for myself is something I learned to do. You can thank Welsh Valley Junior High School in Lower Merion Township for that. When you are going to a school that is sometimes like a literal Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies or bad Darwinian theory, you learn.
What it comes down to is simple: if you aren’t from someone else’s precise world, people may or may not be comfortable with you. It just is what it is. Where The Crawdads Sing definitely delves into this and the question of acceptance within a community and how isolating people changes them and you. That is also what I think plays into the realities of racism at times.
Today, in the USA we live in a world of extremism. Politically, socially, financially, and oh yes climatically. It’s sad and tiring. I wonder what other countries think of us? Maybe I don’t want to know because maybe it is just too embarrassing.
If you haven’t read Where The Crawdads Sing, you should. And before you see the movie because I am told sadly the movie still doesn’t capture all the myriad nuances of the book BUT that doesn’t surprise me. It would have to be a Netflix or Prime series, not just a two hour movie to capture it all.
What happens when you don’t quite know how you fit? In the end it just depends how strong you are and if you are willing to be human as well. People always say “be kind” but they should add also don’t be fake. Being genuine goes a long way.
The more I learn about the way people behave, the more I realize there are a lot of messy people in this world.
Lessons learned this weekend from “adults” and the log book of kiss kiss and bless your hearts, haters:
You can’t say Nancy Fuller from Food Network is “annoying AF”, because it’s “unkind.” Please note she’s not some neighbor’s mom or grandmother, she’s on TELEVISION, and she’s not Julia Child and is even more annoying than Martha Stewart or Paula Deen can be. I will occasionally share the woman’s recipes, I just can’t watch her live either on a Facebook video or some show she’s in because she grates on me. It’s kind of like people whose music you like but you don’t want see them perform in person. Above all else? It’s just one opinion.
Yes that really happened. Up pops this woman in a Facebook cooking group I run. This woman couldn’t just say that she disagreed with how I felt about a Food Network TV personality, no she had to be extra. This person had to say how terrible a person I was, my pizzas were repetitive, no one likes me or my cooking group. (I am still trying to understand how pizza entered the conversation because we were not talking about pizza.)
All of this because I said I thought a television personality was annoying A.F.?
But wait, there’s more. Next this woman private messages me. She has to make the extra point to tell me that I am a horrible person and everybody hates me and everybody makes fun of me.
Oh yes, the invisibles/nameless shamers and finger pointers in life. I thought I left them behind after high school. Apparently not. People you don’t know, don’t know actually exist, who want to define you. (A perennial favorite with me, can’t you tell?)
Seriously, like we’re young teenagers. Also, this is someone I literally don’t know, I have never met nor had a conversation with. Quite literally a stranger who happens to be in two of my Facebook groups. And she did a similar thing with me in my Facebook gardening group a while back which I let slide.
Allow me to circle back and make sure I have this correct: according to her, I am a terribly horrible person who apparently knows nothing about anything, yet she stays in my groups for years? How is this a normal person?
Alrighty then. I am a shameless hussy. Next?
Maybe it’s yet another Facebook phenomenon in the category of Stupid Human Tricks. Facebook is as we all know, fun to be on with friends, but often a really weird place ruled by inconsistent algorithms and full of super messy people. There are people you meet who are completely different in person, versus on a social media platform. Then there are people who pretend to be other people even though you know who they really are. And that’s their business and their story to tell, I just don’t understand it at times.
Sometimes the way purported adults behave on social media leaves you with a case of the why, why, whys. Another example? People you don’t hear from very often who won’t be Facebook friends with you in case “certain” people see who message you only when information seeking. That always cracks me up. But that’s their comfort level.
Facebook, however, is not the real world, and neither is Instagram. Some people use both platforms to post about their world. but for others it is just a playground for narcissistic behavior. I use both platforms to stay connected to friends. I post a lot about gardening and cooking, because those are two of my passions. I share what I write. Once in a while I post a selfie, as opposed to some people who all they do is post selfies or photos others have taken of them, professional or otherwise. Yes, I really find it amusing when people constantly have professional head shots and other photos taken for their Facebook profile photo and other posts. That is “Look at me, I am Sandra Dee” syndrome.
It’s all fairly ordinary. Until it isn’t when you encounter one of these virtual human land mines like I did…in a cooking group over a less than important TV personality. Encountering people like this is something that just makes you world weary at times. It makes you sit back and wonder why you bother to try to do anything. But then it comes back to what my Pennsylvania German grandmother always used to say: “consider the source.”
So I am considering the source, but I just find it puzzling and bizarre behavior. It makes you almost feel sorry for this woman, except it doesn’t.
I will never ever say “why can’t we all get along?” I am a realist, and I don’t think it’s possible. But what I don’t understand about these mostly women on social media platforms, is if they have such an intense dislike for someone on social media, why be in their groups?
What did I do in the end with this woman? I removed her from my groups. She doesn’t have to be my best friend, but life is too short for attack rats.
I don’t know if any of you are watching the HBO/MAX series on the life of Julia Child called “Julia”. I have always been a fan of the French Chef, and I love to cook and I have a bunch of her cookbooks so I really enjoy the show, which began before I was even born. I also enjoy the show and the way that it has blended the era in which she started in TV with the world around them.
In one of the episodes Julia Child has an encounter with Betty Friedan. My research indicates this encounter never actually happened. But another article I read said that the show was perhaps exploring Julia’s brand of feminism versus Betty’s. And that made me think of how do we define feminists and feminism today? The show makes valid points, it also makes you ponder sometimes why as women we are our own sex’s worst enemies.
When I look back on life, you naturally start when we were growing up. Especially if you grew up in an area like the Main Line, which isn’t necessarily the real world. Graduating high school in 1981 meant sure we were being groomed to have the big female careers, but conversely we were also still being groomed to be lovely hostesses in our husbands’ homes. And no one told us or showed which choice was the right choice for us as individuals.
My career was not some giant six-figure career with fancy cars and penthouse apartments. I think that was harder on my mother for a lot of years as opposed to me. Just like it was hard on her when I was single, and sometimes she made me feel like that was a huge flaw in me as a human being. I liked what I did. Never wanted to just be with a partner or date, or even marry just so I could say I did that. I wanted it to be right.
But what I discovered when I got what should have been a career dream job is I didn’t really like it as much as the other things I had done all the other years. But it was an accomplishment. I will note that I was definitely deserving of a six-figure salary for a lot of those years, and I honestly never attained it. However, you know what? That was fine. I wasn’t a millionaire but I had enough money to take care of myself most of the time, and sometimes it was tight and I managed. And the truth of the matter is, employers are cheap. The key to their particular brand of success is not making you wealthy, but making them wealthy. Just another version of plantation mentality.
I have also always been opinionated. Sometimes that’s welcome in a corporate setting, sometimes not. as I entered into my 30s I began to realize there were other things out there. There wasn’t just being on socially correct junior committees and going to the right parties and being seen with the right people. There were the things in life that you took a look at and made you realize that all the people you were on committees with would always need you more than you needed them.
Gradually I became active in my community. I became kind of a community/grassroots activist of sorts. But sometimes who I was clashed with some of the people I was a community activist with, as well as people I grew up with . And sometimes these two sides of me clashed within myself. It took me until I was well into my 40s to understand that I could be both of those people.
And then there is the whole me as I have gotten older. I married later than a lot of people, and when I was marrying for the first time a lot of people I know were not only divorcing but onto subsequent spouses. Sometimes in that part of my world I felt judged. And I don’t really know why I think it’s just because I kind of did me all of these years. Not always easily because as we grow we learn more about ourselves. Especially as women.
Sometimes now, I feel myself judged by an entirely different generation of women. I am a stepparent and I never had my own children, somehow that goes against you and I don’t quite know how. It would’ve been nice if I had been able to bear my own children, but medically that was never possible for me, and it just never would’ve presented itself as an opportunity in the more traditional “childbearing years.”
And there’s the whole idea of feminism and having it all. But at on the eve of 58 I still wonder if you can have it all? Or is what makes you happy in fact actually having it all? I think it’s that. I think having it all, is being content with your life. And maybe that runs counter to feminism. Maybe I personally run counter to feminism because I like to do things like garden and cook and keep my house. I don’t think for years you were supposed to admit that out loud.
I look around me and we all spend a lot of our time as women in general, telling everyone else what they should do with their lives. And now once again we are coming full circle to wondering if a bunch of folks in judicial robes are going to be telling women what they should do, and more importantly what they should do with their bodies?
Oh yes, readers, I am going there. No matter what my personal choices are vis-à-vis my own body, I have never believed it was my place to tell another woman what she should do with hers. And I have always resented it when those in clerical robes and judicial robes have tried to tell us what it meant to be a woman. And I resent most of all the politicians who take this issue on on both sides and pander.
Feminism in the 60s and 70s gave women the power to be whom they felt they should be. We have in a sense, enjoyed that since then. But we’ve all gotten lackadaisical and somewhat complacent. And that’s men and women, and look where it’s gotten us in this country? Politically, we are a cesspool.
I also get tired of those who go around proselytizing in political campaigns and even within our own communities telling us what our families are supposed to look like, and what our family values according to them are supposed to be. They also want to tell us what our sexual preferences and gender identity are supposed to be, and there’s no room for anything else because it makes all of those people uncomfortable.
All of this behavior has extended itself into our schools, our libraries, our daily lives. The ultimate echo chamber is social media and certain social media groups. And what they don’t understand is they are free to have their opinions but rights are not subjective and they don’t get to foist their opinions on us and tell us that is what we are supposed to do.
All of these people want to tell you that their First Amendment rights are of more value than ours. They also want to tell you how the life during the last political administration and president was so wonderful, and today is a mess. I am wondering if they will ever be able to pull their heads out of their collective asses and realize everything they are bemoaning as a mess today is a result of what we went through with the last administration? Do I think that the current administration is doing a particularly fabulous job? To be honest no not all of the time, but then you look at realistically what they were left to deal with. Also politics has gotten ridiculously reactive and over-reactive. Being a moderate is like a four letter word.
Then you look at what we are dealing with today. You have the people who are saying that they are so against socialism and totalitarianism and they are true conservatives yet they don’t know the basics of the United States Constitution, our history as a country, and what it is to be a true conservative. Truthfully, a lot of those people don’t even realize that they are closer to socialism, communism, and totalitarianism than anyone. Sometimes I wonder if what the U.S. is experiencing today is actually closer to what Great Britain saw in post WWII England? That was some truly ugly stuff for a while. And it seems to be here today.
What we are living today is what it’s like trying to exist in a country full of political extremism. And as women in this country, I think we are feeling that acutely. And I think as women we are looking at a horrible future for future generations of American women, if we all don’t speak up.
And we as women all need to stop thinking that there’s always something wrong with who we are because of how other people see us. I realized that again this weekend when a lot of high school reunions took place. Ladies, we are who we are, and just because the “it girls“ from back in the day still think they are “it girls” it doesn’t mean they are ….it just means perhaps they are stuck in a time warp. Interestingly enough, most of them still do not know how to behave, which is something I find very amusing personally.
When it comes to women there will always be strivers. There are strivers in the personal sense of those who have amazing career goals and attain them. Then there are the strivers who are perhaps not as appealing. Like social strivers.
The social strivers are often the women who are trying to run as fast as possible from what they’re from. Instead of embracing what they’re from, they only wish to project essentially a fake persona and are often label conscious, trendy Wendy types.
Where women always will fall short in this world is not embracing that part of who you are based on what you’re from. And maybe what you’re from isn’t what you feel is socially acceptable, but it’s stupid to try to deny it because everybody knows it anyway.
There’s nothing wrong with a woman who doesn’t color her hair, doesn’t have plastic surgery, and doesn’t get Botox and other fillers every few weeks from not even their dermatologist half of the time, but a spa or salon somewhere.
Women as a species will always be competitive on some level with other women. It’s human nature. But the thing is it’s how you use that competitive nature, and ironically some of the most hyper competitive women I’ve ever met in my entire life I’ve also been among the most insecure.
I’m not saying we’re supposed to all stop shaving our legs and armpits and we’re supposed to sing Kumbaya around the campfire, what I’m saying is maybe as part of the brand of the new feminism we need to actually be real.
So what is the new feminism? I’m still not really sure. But I do think part of it is being able to speak our peace. And I think part of being real is actually acknowledging you don’t want to lift up every woman. Because sometimes there are just some women who piss you off, or irritate you, or you question their inherent value as human beings and just do not like. And that’s OK as a woman to actually say that out loud. You can be your authentic self without worrying about having to be perfect every five minutes.
Obviously I don’t have the answers, and these are just some of my rambling thoughts. I’m sure not everyone will like what I have written today, but these are things I’m thinking about.
My husband loves Al Stewart’s music. I have always liked it as well. So every once on Spotify, I turn on some Al Stewart. One of his songs is running in a loop through my brain. Has been since I received some news that kind of upended me yesterday and today. The song is Time Passages. So that is why the video is in this post. Another song too has been in that loop. Supertramp’s Lord Is It Mine. Both my husband and I also love Supertramp. Also added a favorite Genesis song and a Steve Winwood too. Might as well do the full music I liked then and today. Music helps.
But…..Damn my age is showing. The music is all from “back in the [proverbial] day”. And this really has nothing to do with what I have been trying to write since this morning. It’s like if I write it out, it becomes more real. Music cushions the thoughts.
I have been sitting in front of my computer screen. I know what I want to say, but have been somewhat stuck in my own head since last evening when I received completely unexpected news.
One of my favorite people, a friend who feels like he’s been around literally since almost forever has died. Forever meaning I think we met circa 1976 or so. I know this is something I have to write about because it just needs to leave my brain. The memories need to settle and go back to happy, not swirl in my brain like an unhappy tornado.
Yes, a lot of tears have been quietly shed today.
He was hit by a car while walking. Just a freak accident a fluke. He wasn’t sick, he loved his life, was in the prime of his life, nice career, nice man. The kind of person you want in your life until we are really old and gray, only that won’t happen now.
Somewhere in a trunk I have photos from when we were teenagers and older. So many memories. Damn it David, I am not grown up enough for this.
I will start with one a friend reminded me of last night. Sitting in the middle of my parents’ driveway and David shouting “To the airport and hop on it!” when a VW rabbit went by. And that day multiple VW rabbits drove down our then quiet road. It was a hot car then. We laughed and laughed.
Another memory sitting in my parents’ library with him and three or four other friends. Don’t know why. It may have been after JDA (Junior Dancing Assemblies.)
Ahh what were the Junior Dancing Assemblies (“JDA”)? They were formal by invitation dances. The Senior Dancing Assemblies (‘SDA”) followed. They were held at the Merion Tribute House in Merion Station. Every time it was my father’s turn to drive us kids, he got lost. I still get lost going there.
Girls in long dresses or long formal tartan skirts and an appropriate top. Note that appropriate those days was NOT short skirts or skimpy tops or even spaghetti straps or strapless. Somewhere I have the original invitation that had the dress code. It was a tradition starting to wane by the time we went. Sometimes it was a bad cover band, other times a D.J.
A few years ago, David and I had some serious giggles over JDA and SDA and that Gold Lamé dragon Mrs. Farber. She was the one who ran the dances. Seriously, she seemed to have an endless supply of Gold Lamé dresses that had these almost bullet bra tops and didn’t move anymore than her Aqua Net cemented hair do. She was terrifying. She dragged me into the service kitchen at Merion Tribute one night and called my mother on the kitchen phone to report that I wouldn’t dance with someone she picked out for me to dance with. Fortunately, David and another friend rescued me. I remember coming home that night and my mother wondering why THAT woman called her. And of course a resounding chorus of “Don’t do that again, you were lucky to be invited.”
We would camp out during JDA and SDA intermissions or breaks and hangout on the window seats at Merion Tribute House and the other seating areas and shove stale pretzels down the heater grates as we drank our slightly warm and slightly flat Coca Colas out of Dixie Cups. During those intermissions we would think up grand schemes never executed to torture Mrs. Farber. Mostly we wondered how her bras were so pointy, how big was that closet of Gold Lamé dresses, and what was actually in her hair.
And then there were our mischief night escapades. One year we took apart a split rail fence and created an obstacle course on the road. We almost got caught that year as we also toilet papered several trees. Another year someone (David) magically re-painted the tops of someone’s wrought iron fence from gaudy gold to black I think it was.
Another thing we did once in a while? Roaming around the back of the estate known as Dolobran in Haverford. Why? So we could peek in the windows of the ballroom. It was so cool. At that point I believe there was just one tiny old lady living there. That was back when said little old lady gave me a $20 bill for Halloween one year back then. I had dressed my dog up as a cat to go trick or treating.
During the high school years we all went to different schools. So there were parties at Kip’s house or Adam’s house. Then there were the Philadelphia Charity Ball Years. David rescued me a couple of times when I did not have a date and my mother said I could not go with “just friends.” So he really wasn’t my escort, but covered for me and another friend so we could go.
Eventually we all went our separate ways and wouldn’t see each other as often. While I stayed pretty much in the Philadelphia area, David and other friends were spread out all over the east coast, out west, down south. So then there was Christmas.
Christmas Eve for decades meant one Christmas party in particular for many of us in Gladwyne. So I always saw David and his family there. When we were younger, we would be with the kids downstairs in a big rec room for the most part. As we got older we migrated upstairs and would take over the hosts’ study.
Then at some point, we all stopped going. In recent years, David and I would connect by phone, email, and like so many others Facebook. We would occasionally see each other when he was up from Florida to see family still in the area.
David did things liked sent me little gifts sometimes for no reason. A couple of years ago it was a set of whimsical kitchen towels he thought I would like.
The last time we connected was his birthday….barely a month ago.
Hopping around: I remember when his mother died. April, 1978. Not too long from now is the anniversary. I remember when he called me. She was the first parent of someone I knew who passed away. His dad remarried a few years later, and his father and stepmother and siblings and family and friends all survive him. His stepmother is truly lovely. And I remember that was not easy coming into the world of three boys of various ages who had lost their mother.
My head is calmer now as I have written down some of these memories and allowed the memories of laughter wash over me. Today has been full of phone calls from some of our old friends, which is comforting for all of us. It gives us a chance to quietly remember someone who was just a wonderful person, one of our life long friends.
Telling my mother was no fun. She always adored David. My past is her past here. And his stepmother and father are still alive and such nice people. She said to me no parent wants to outlive their children.
Now David wasn’t someone who would want us to be endlessly sad. So I am celebrating him right now with a post traveling down a meandering multi-decade memory lane. The meandering includes music. What I have shared plus a favorite playlist from Spotify.
David gave his friends a precious gift one last time. And that gift is allowing some of us to reconnect. We will honor that gift and remember him. (Umm he also gave me his grandmother’s pound cake recipe and THAT is priceless.)
David, we will all miss you, and when I have my next glass of Rosé, I will lift a glass in your honor. Thanks for the memories, but it just wasn’t time enough.
The older I get, the more I realize loss is not for sissies.
This morning I had a giggle. Sex & The City started on HBO in June, 1998. Cable was ridiculously expensive and I remember hunting the various COMCAST “special deals” just so I could have HBO. Nope, no Manolo budget here. I was single, watching the ultimate single girl television show.
Ok yes, I have talked about this show before, but come on? The original was a big part of all of our lives. Kind of like Star Trek for some of the guys I know.
I loved the cast, part of which was New York City. The clothes and the shoes I could never afford unless they were dumped at Loehmann’s or Daffy’s or Century21. And I could never walk in the shoes. The shoes I left and still leave to my sister (and her fabulous shoe closet/racks.)
This morning I had a giggle because I realized that way back when I used to watch Sex & The City in bed like my big single girl not so secret, sometimes with a glass of wine. Now I watch And Just Like That on Thursday mornings in bed with a cup of coffee.
Yup the 50s. Struck me as so funny. I don’t know why. Well maybe because I watch the new show drinking my coffee and then I go and clean up the rest of the kitchen and sort the laundry. Back then, in the Sex & The City Days, yes I did laundry and cleaned up the kitchen. Just didn’t admit it out loud.
So now I am a few episodes into the new show. I like it. It’s getting a lot of flak like the actresses were supposed to have been cryovaced and opened as their 1990s selves once again. Well gee, that would be a neat trick. They have aged, pretty damn well if you ask me and you can see a little “work” but at least they don’t have frozen face syndrome. I have seen a lot less of that frozen face syndrome since COVID started, but still, it’s out there.
Probably I am an anomaly. I don’t do fillers or injectables. No plastic surgery, still on my original body parts. If liposuction didn’t look incredibly painful, maybe that would be an option (I am actually joking) but I think I will just try to exercise more and eat less? I am not a perfect 10 now, wasn’t back then. After breast cancer surgery, people kept telling me about their favorite plastic surgeons. Well once you have had a couple non-elective surgeries that kind of hurt and if you hate needles, that is not really an option. Besides, ask your radiology technician sometime what they have to do to get a mammogram on ladies with glorious fake breasts. One word: contortion. Two words: no thanks.
Things about the show that still crack me up is they all still breathe the rarified air. They are mixing in more everyday kind of available clothes, but still the wardrobes and where they live. Pretty fun and fantastical. But those are ladies in menopause and I envy them their lack of hot flashes. Or they could just be like my mother was back then and simply not acknowledge their existence.
The conversations have shifted some with them. The hair coloring vs. not coloring crack me up. Oh I have had those because once I started breast cancer treatment I stopped experimenting with color. It was never much to begin with, just the occasional semi permanent color job. Now a decade plus later, my hair still has a lot of my original dark. I will admit some days I freak myself out because when I look in the mirror I see my paternal grandmother Beatrice, but for me I made the right choice. And my hair actually looks and feels better.
I am aging. I will admit to taking collagen supplements, but with age comes dry skin. But when I look in the mirror, except for the occasional glimpse of Beatrice and wondering how almost 60 years of life seem gone in a blink, it’s ok.
Now these television characters and the actors which portray them have all aged. I kind of like that they have aged right along with me. I think I would have been upset if the re-boot occurred with a new young cast.
I often wonder what women think as they age. We all know quite a few who aren’t doing it quite gracefully. The still too short skirts, tight pants, and short shorts. Overly carefully lit selfies and professionally taken social media photos. Some of these ladies have amazing figures, others do not. It’s just about aging gracefully, perhaps with humor. I mean we do have options other than mom jeans, right? I will admit to missing my leather and sued pants, however, and being able to wear strapless gowns.
Back then when the original show aired, I was wondering what this current part of my life would be like. I had a bunch of friends who married young, and I couldn’t see myself in their lives then. I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t about sowing the proverbial wild oats, never did so much of that, it was just about growing into myself I think. I wasn’t there yet. (However, I will tell you that back then, I still did cook, go antique and vintage treasure hunting, and garden.)
One of the best things for women about these shows is showing the relationships between the women and their partners, and the dating then and now. I was never much of a dater although I did it. I always found recreational dating much like the job interviews for the jobs I didn’t want.
But the characters the women’s characters dated in the original series? Cracked me up. I could see them in so many people my friends had dated and even I dated. Like Mr. Big. We all had one of those, I think. But we didn’t marry them, so it’s kind of no wonder they made her a widow. But I do know some young widows, so on the other hand I actually get that (and wish it on no one.)
And the Samanthas. We all had them, even if their clothes weren’t as good. But they grew up too, and not all friendships transcend the test of time. So no matter why that character is gone, I get it. I have a lot of my core friends, but I am exceptionally lucky. Some of the other friendships didn’t make it but it kind of falls into that saying about friendships being reason, season, or lifetime.
Truthfully I am glad to be me now, and that I am not dating in my 50s. I am grateful for my life and marriage. I know who I am, I know who he is. We aren’t ever perfect, but I know what it is to love and be loved, and there comes a point where that is just right and very lovely. Now granted, I know I am a very lucky woman, and I never take that for granted (or try not to.) However, I will completely admit it’s a little annoying that he can still imitate my high school self walking down the halls at Shipley carrying my book bag. So no, I do not get away with much, ladies.
Another thing I admire about the new series are the people they have around them. It’s not just bars and cosmopolitans. It’s the bitchy women’s committees and PTA savages. It’s the reinventing yourself when you thought you were all set, including sometimes starting over.
We can all relate. After all, I still remember the first time I did a car rider line, didn’t know where to go, and got in the wrong part of the line. I was literally surrounded by mini vans and had moms and dads who got out of their vehicles to SCREAM at me. Oh and the teachers and school personnel watched from the sidelines like it was a spectator sport.
And then there were the moms who wanted their high school kids to slow dance at their dances like “the holy spirit was in between them.” Had to bite my tongue with that one because did they actually know what their teenagers were up to and it certainly didn’t involve the holy spirit. But hey, whatever gets you through the day.
And now today add to the average and annoying PTA moms we have the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, conservative beacons of light who will save all of us from ourselves while searching for that perfect hair color shade. The new Stepford Wives.
And then you have the not Stepford Wives who are just amusing. Self-described social media experts because they have a few Facebook group pages. And they still copy their material from everyone else and don’t have an original bone in their bodies. And they still want you to think certain communities adjacent to the Main Line are the Main Line, and why? Is the Main Line all that and a bag of chips? No sadly, and hasn’t been in years, just like there is no real “society” left to photograph.
Thanks but no, I will take me, lumps and all. It’s ok to age. We have much better shoes to choose from these days, and you only have to have a rocking chair on your front porch if you want one.
The command is framed and perched in a living room that can only be described as “well-curated.” A picture of this room appeared first on a popular design blog and has been pinned, tumbl’d, and liked thousands of times. Though it introduces exhortations to labor into a space of leisure, the “do what you love” living room is the place all those pinners and likers long to be.
There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem with DWYL, however, is that it leads not to salvation but to the devaluation of actual work—and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.
Superficially, DWYL is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? And who is the audience for this dictum?
A friend posted this on their Facebook page and it is an intriguing read. Even if I do not necessarily agree with a lot of commentary. I spent years doing what I did NOT love at that point any longer mainly because I was afraid to take a gamble on myself, and I had bills to pay. Breast cancer freed me from that because I had to leave my old industry literally to reduce my stress or fear recurrence. (It was one of those times where your medical care team does an intervention, and like it or not, you have to or should listen.)
When the author of the article says things like the quote below it’s like she is mocking those of us who left the corporate hamster wheel.
“DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient.”
Doing my own thing is not elitist, well, it’s survival. I am 55. Corporate America does NOTlike to hire women over 50. Or even in their mid-40s. We are too expensive when it comes to things like healthcare and we are old enough to mostly know our own minds. Knowing your own mine is a threat. It’s far easier for them to hire women half of our age who can still sport short skirts without looking too old to sport short skirts. And if they have a choice between hiring a woman my age who doesn’t color her hair and who hasn’t had “work done” and one who has? Botox and hair coloring win every time.
Ageism is a real thing. It was a very strange sensation realizing I was no longer one of the younger ones in the room. And since I stopped coloring my hair, I look in the mirror and I see relatives who came before me. I loved every one of them, but I am still not sure how I feel about it some days.
Some days I wonder should I have had “work done” even a little filler like a lot of women I know? And every time I have this conversation with myself, it ends the same way: I am who I am, I can’t pretend to be someone else.
On some days I am fine with my age and who I am. Other days it’s like where did my 25 year old ass and legs go?
Yet, the reality is me at 55 is a heck of a lot happier than me in my 20s.
Being in your 20s is exhausting. The games with dating and learning to be yourself. The games with who were actually your friends, and the hurt of the ones who betray you and you should have let go of long before that. Or being in your 20s and to have a boyfriend cheat on you and they don’t understand why you couldn’t just move past it and not walk? And neither do some of your friends?
The twenties and even your thirties was the whole additional journey of trying to find yourself as a woman and trying to learn how to be an adult. Some days were better than others, remember? Remember the days you wanted to scream into an empty room?
Working in your 20s, or what I remember in the financial services industry (and friends who were in different industries had similar tales) meant learning to keep your back to the wall when some older male colleagues around and I even remember one temp job I had where my first day two women warned me not to get caught in the room where the copy machines were with one guy in particular.
Damn we all could have had our workplace #MeToo moments and a lot of us did to varying degrees. But we didn’t talk or tweet about it, we just survived. Because we had to.
I had a lot of friends get married in their 20s. In a lot of cases I should say the first time. As I attended wedding after wedding sometimes I just didn’t get how you could go from being dependent upon your parents to being dependent upon a spouse without any chance to grow in between and learn who you were.
A lot of my friends were just on autopilot to marry and produce children. We were partially all raised to be that way. Maybe that sounds elitist, I don’t know. It is just the way it was.
I was a late bloomer so I did not marry until much later and I think the timing was right for me. I spent a lot of time feeling like I did not quite fit and didn’t quite know myself. But it took years to even admit to myself that I liked spending time by myself. I was at the end of an engagement where I had the epiphany that if I did end up just with myself I would be o.k. That realization was very freeing and I think it was a key to opening me up to the woman I am today. Or who I might become. Some days I still wonder am I there yet?
Career-wise I had a path that wasn’t necessarily the path I would have chosen initially but I liked it and it paid the bills. Was it fulfilling? Nope. But it sure was eye-opening as to human nature.
Then came breast cancer. I could no longer handle the stress, the hours, the mental gymnastics of cut throat and duplicitous people. Being a woman in my old industry was exhausting on a good day, but after breast cancer surgery and treatment? I just couldn’t do it any longer. And it had ceased being rewarding long ago. And it’s an industry that still treats women like crap and always will. And I would never be hard enough.
So breast cancer gave me the courage to look at things differently. It was hard. It still can be hard. People ask me why some days I do so much? The answer is I was in my old industry for so long, I forgot how to relax. You were geared to getting so much done in one day. You had to. You were subject to everyone else’s deadlines.
Doing more of what I love and being able to love what I do? It became about survival and starting to experience ageism. And when ageism smacks you in the face, it’s a real bitch. So when people say do what you love (DWYL) is somehow elitist, well sometimes it is the path that opened for you. I wasn’t ready to be a greeter at Target or WalMart, sorry.
So I took a risk. I took a chance on complete change. It’s just as hard some days as putting up with crap as a tiny cog in the wheel of Corporate America, trust me. Nothing is perfect, and those who pretend it is are doing themselves a disservice.
Let’s talk about other things in realm of ageism as a woman in the workforce. I learned this in my 40s when I became a statistic in the layoffs done at Wachovia Securities before Wells Fargo came in. Corporate jets were not expendable, but worker bees like me were. Do you know how surreal it was having an HR folder full of accolades and customer testimonials as to how GOOD a job I did, and being fêted nationally by the company as a “volunteer of the year” for my volunteerism in my community to being a corporate pre-merger layoff statistic? Seriously, the day I got my package they gave me a chart showing where everyone was getting cut in my region and whether they were male or female.
After being forced as part of a giant corporate separation package to take a time out (in case they decide to UN-lay me off and bring me back), I came back out into the workforce late 2007 to early 2008. A completely crap economy and here I was a woman in my 40s. Why hire me when they could hire someone so much younger? And then there was the interview where the interviewer literally asked why I did not remember him. Apparently I had turned him down for a job like 15 plus years prior and he never got over it? (Yeah THAT wasn’t too weird, was it?) And then there were the job interviews that were like marathons. Literally hours in one day like a perverse corporate endurance test.
And in this brave new world of interviewing a lot of the interviews were not even face to face any longer. And even if you sent a thank you note for an interview like you are supposed to, sometimes they just didn’t bother to ever reply. Most of the time they never bothered to acknowledge you even submitted a resume.
When I finally did land a job which on paper sounded amazing, among other things I was working for someone who did not offer even access to healthcare benefits, proper vacation time, or a retirement plan. But I needed to work, I had to support myself. So I took it.
This is the job I should have left three months in, but instead I stayed about four years. I left post breast cancer. I was exhausted. Because I worked for a company that offered no benefits, sick days, vacation days and never had a policy on sick or vacation days per say, I pretty much had my breast cancer surgery and came right back to work. I had to work through my post surgical treatment. I felt like I was in a white collar sweat shop and damn didn’t my ancestors work themselves to the bone a immigrants to the US so future generations like myself didn’t have to?
But I did not have the courage or faith in myself to leave. Until my husband looked at me one day after the doctors had done their intervention and told me I had to get out of the current job that the stress would kill me, and said “quit.”
I looked at him like I misheard him. So he repeated himself and said “Quit. It’s not worth the stress and something else will come along.”
So I did what I never had done, I quit. And a weight lifted off of my shoulders. But this was the job that left me with Corporate America PTSD. Not only didn’t I want to get back on that hamster wheel, I couldn’t.
So I changed everything. I had to. Has it been easy doing only for myself? No not every day because some days I feel like I have adult onset A.D.D. and for love or money, I can’t concentrate. But it’s nice to feel like me again, or to maybe even finally know who I actually am.
Growing up the choices were career girl or get married. Even after the day of bra burnings, female empowerment, and women’s lib that was still pretty much it. Today, in a lot of ways, it still is. And I am so sure a lot of women will read this and be enraged. Stuff it ladies, I am not breaking new ground here.
One thing I agree with the magazine article writer on is if you kind of want to “have it all,” you might need to have lots and lots of lovely money to begin with. If you are just a regular person, that mantra is a little harder to achieve. But I do believe that you should try to love what you do, or at least like it. Otherwise it’s not worth it and weighs you down.
Women wear many hats in life. We walk many tightropes. But somehow, we get there, don’t we? It’s called survival.