Category Archives: irony

rant: The Fight for Individualism: It’s Very Popular


I have to say this. 

There seems to be an overwhelming trend for people to think that just they are the spawning salmon; that they are going against the grain. The Independents. The I am MySelf People. The Just Be You People. 

I get this. I accept this. I so accept this that it’s one of the greatest paradoxes of all time! 

As Lily Tomlin said, “We’re all alone in this together.”

Occupy Wall Street: 50k people crowding a park in NYC think they’re independent. 

Everyone comes into this planet the same way.

Have you ever had a great day? So have I. I guess that means you’re not alone anymore. 
Have you ever had a regret? So have I. I guess that means you’re not alone anymore. 

Have you ever gotten sick?  So have I. I guess that means you’re not alone anymore. 
Have you ever had a good idea? So have I. I guess that means you’re not alone anymore. 

There are really only a few truly independent thinkers, truly independent avatars in all of humanity’s Universal experience.

Jesus. No, I’m not saying “Jesus” as if I’m exasperated.  Jesus is one.  

Who else…  Einstein. No, I’m not saying “Einstein” ironically as though you’re not smart enough. He’s another. 

Moses, God, Newton, Galileo…  Mitch Snyder (the hunger strike activist). Mother Theresa (but not really because she followed the teachings of Jesus…).

They were independents. For awhile, and then they amassed followers. So then what? Are they truly independents anymore? Truly revolutionaries? 

If you want to be truly Your Own Guy, truly Independent: get off the internet. Lose the cell phone. Stop taking pictures of yourself and posting them online. Stop logging your time anywhere and uploading it to Facebook. Stop leaving a trail for people to follow you! You’re so alone on Facebook that there are 800+ million of you. 

Stop Trying To Connect with people and then say you’re your Own Guy! 

Gimme a break.  

Because if you did this, then people wouldn’t follow you and you’d be all alone. Eureka! There it is! Go ahead. Disagree with me… you wouldn’t be the only one. 


And everyone leaves this planet the same way.

I loved this: one day I was running with my dog. Some kids (who clearly can’t spell) spray painted this on the asphalt under the trees: “We are the Lone Woves” — first, Woves, you missed your L. Secondly, “we” and “lone” contradict. But they’re kids. The point is, there are no truly lone wolves. We know this because if they were alone, they wouldn’t survive. No one, no one is alone; we might feel that way, but honestly: you wouldn’t like it. Try it. Go ahead: go off the grid, drink water from a stream, kill for your meals, rub two sticks together and live in a cave. 

I bet you’ll find someone else there too.  

We are all connected. Gah! I didn’t want to go all existential today. I didn’t want to Be That Person again who preaches and then goes back to my hole of quiet where it’s just me and my thoughts. But it’s so funny to me that people think, I mean, actually beLIEVE they are alone, loners, rogue, independent. They’re not! 

I know I’m not alone in my thinking. 

The thing is: if you stick out constantly like a sore thumb rather than just a thumb, maybe you’re just sore. And you’re the one who’s resisting.

Resist urge to preach. Resist urge to preach. Resist urge to preach. 

Ok, here are some Other Independents: 

The ugly ones: Hilter. Stalin. The Unabomber. Osama bin Laden. 

Sheesh. Talk about sore thumbs. Ouch.

Um. I’m repeating myself: they were independents. For awhile, and then they amassed followers. So then what? Are they truly independents anymore? Truly revolutionaries? 

If you want to be really Independent: go off the grid. Live off the land. Don’t work for money. Do good anonymously. Be one of Those People: the ones who do great things expecting NOTHING in return. 

I have to say, it’s all bullshit. All this “I am my own guy!” stuff because at the core of humanity, we want to be heard, we want to get along, we want to have friendships and relationships. We want SO DESPERATELY to connect. If we didn’t we wouldn’t have sex and procreate. We wouldn’t live where other people are. We wouldn’t say “Hi!” It’s simply not just a matter of evolution. It’s a matter of relation.

But then those “we our own guy” people are exclusionists: “you can be with us but you have to agree with us. If you disagree, you’re not one of us; you’re alone.” 

Ok.  But then aren’t you…? My head hurts. 

To me, all those people who want to Be Their Own Person are cool, until what they say about YOUR independent thought is somehow offensive. Once you challenge their “gone against (really with) the grain” mentality, it’s no longer cool. Good luck trying to connect with those guys; the ones you oppose because guess what?: your mentality is against Their (collective) mentality. 

I hate to break it to all the so-called independent thinkers out there: There are no “I” people; sooner or later, you’re gonna find another who agrees with you. And then what happens… don’t look, but you’ve become a “we.”

Just quit lying to yourselves and accept the fact that you’re part of a bigger connection. It’s your ego that thinks it’s so revolutionary, but your id that wants to belong. Sometimes. Go with the flow… we all do eventually. 

It’s OK. Really.

Bluto was right. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? 

The greatest irony of all of this is that some of the greatest individuals: Jesus, Moses, Galileo, Einstein were all about teaching people that we are together. Divided we fall. 

Who’s with me? 

Thank you. 

Elusive Equanimity


Equanimity means being OK with What Is. For me, it’s pretty elusive. Not an hour goes by where I don’t have some opinion on something. 

Being OK with What Is, is a tenet of yoga. 

I have a yoga class twice a week from one of the best yoga people I know. I met her when she subbed for one of the other best teachers I’ve ever had. I know, I hit the lottery. Guess what? I still manage to feel guilty for not going back to the first teacher. My reasons are excellent reasons and if I were my own best friend, I’d tell me to just let the guilt go. . .

When I don’t go to class for yoga, I’m practicing a little at home in the morning or at the end of the day to wind up or wind down for the day. 

Practicing yoga. Practicing … that sort of implies imperfection and acceptance with the process. That we are constantly evolving. 

The irony is not lost on me that I practice something that actively reminds me to be OK with What Is. 

Things that take time do well with equanimous spirits, people who are Zen. Thus, I do not deign to own an equanimous spirit, so I fake it.  I can feel my back molars grind into each other actually as I type this. I hate denial. 

Release. Breathe. Let it go. 

OK. So, while I said that Equanimity means being OK with What Is; that’s sorta the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just being OK with What Is, but being OK with What Is at all times, the easy times and the hard times.  

How many of you are OK with What Is at all times? 

Webster’s says this: 
equanimity |ˌēkwəˈnimitē; ˌekwə-|

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mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, esp. in a difficult situation : she accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity.
equanimous |iˈkwänəməs| adjective
ORIGIN early 17th cent. (also in the sense ‘fairness, impartiality’ ): from Latin aequanimitas, from aequus ‘equal’ + animus ‘mind.’

I realize, as I’ve matured (clearly I’m not equanimous about age) that I’ve selected pastimes that are far from immediately satisfying. 

I’ve given birth to three boys. BREATHE. 

I’ve recently taken up knitting. Again. Breathe. 

I have a fish tank, two cats and one beloved dog who truly, is my bestest bud on four feet. 

I have decided to write a book. Several actually, they’re all in different stages of maturity. One’s about motherhood; another is about a woman named Miriam and her transformation through illusion with the aide of therapy and a patient husband (sound familiar?); and another is about a pretty lost dude, its inspiration came after a long afternoon with my beloved cousins last summer. Which one do you want to hear about most? Really! Tell me and I’ll get cracking. 

I garden. Anyone who gardens must be the equanimous type, right? ‘Cause gardening takes time, patience and totally being OK with What Is.

I think my parents and brothers and anyone who knew me in a professional capacity would never describe me as being equanimous at my essence and I agree with them. I like results. I am detail oriented. I have an extremely driven personality. If you ever hired me to get your whatever done, you know it’s gotten done. My work reviews were mostly “Consistently Exceeded Expectations” because I was like a dog on a hunt: motivated and insanely focused. I often remember my MCI corporate communications days when I’d relish hearing executives saying, “Don’t tell me about BCDEFandG and all the rest; it doesn’t matter… I want to hear about XYZ. Now.” I’d be the one in the background “woof-woof”-ing (a lá Arsenio Hall) “That’s right! She wants the reSULTS! y’all! Get going!”  In short, I don’t let people down. 

Back to equanimity. Back to What Is.

As I said, another pastime is my garden. OMIGAWD I love my garden. Don’t ask me any of the latin names, or the botanical breakdowns. I couldn’t care less about phyla or kingdoms or whatever. Just show me what’s annual, what works in shade, in acidic soil and I’m there. I like their street names: hosta “blue elephant’s ear” (LOVE IT!), stripey, variegated this and that, daylily and the rest.  

Similar to just about everyone but the dead-for-a-long-time Dorothy Parker, I come alive in springtime. I love the leaves, with their translucent newness. The smell of dirt that wafts from under the leaves broken by fern and forest perennials is better than any fresh-brewed coffee.  I come alive with gardening in the spring. This particular hobby, fancy, interest, obsession, is one that takes practice, timing and being OK with the fact that you might not know what the heck you’re doing. I’ve killed a ton of plants by placing them in the wrong places or overwatering. It is a hobby that completely demands equanimity. 

“Demands equanimity.” There’s an irony. 

It demands equanimity because as a farmer, a true farmer, knows: mother nature is the ultimate decider. She says when it’s gonna rain, when it’s gonna shine, or frost; when it’s gonna be dry or cloudy. She says so. As farmers, they know: there is no guarantee and there are no promises. So we must be OK with What Is. 

Even if What Is means no crops. Even if What Is means too much rain. 

Even if What Is means everything’s OK, because if you’re anything like me: even when everything’s OK, you wonder when it won’t be anymore. That’s a painful reminder of life: even though everything’s OK, we humans have a tendency to screw it all up by considering that somewhere, something’s not OK and then therefore, we should do something about it.  


Therein lies the equanimity. We must **MUST** be OK with What Is. Even if it’s hideous or awful (as I hear sirens joined by other sirens in the distance, quick, say a prayer). Because you know why? It will be OK. One way or another: peace will come. Possibly in a way we might not prefer, but peace will come. 

Here’s another way of looking at it: if whatever is happening is happening and you aren’t OK with it… is being not OK with it going to change it? Chances are: no. If it’s something like a tablecloth off center or a song being just not right, pause and think. If you’re doing that all the time? It’s you. It’s not the circumstances. So let it go. Be equanimous.

 . . .

It’s Sunday night and I’ve blissfully spent almost every possible free moment in my gardens this weekend. Friday I went with my neighbor/bff/buddy to the local nursery and dropped little over a hundy on some annuals and vegetable (eggplant, beans, burpless cukes, and beans) plants for our actual vegetable garden that my husband Dan tends with Thing 3 who is 8. The rest was flowers in those little 4-packs. About 78 of those single guys. 

I planted them all that afternoon. I couldn’t stop myself. It rained. I dug. It poured. I planted. It thundered. I counted. It lightening-ed. I went inside. 

Waiting…. Waiting… checking the sky. 

Is it clear?  Clouds. 

Did it stop? No coronas pinging off the pavement.  

Can I go? It’s quiet. 

Ok. Let’s try…

I have tennis elbow again. This time in my left (dominant) arm.  Equanimity raises her head. It’s hard to be a gardener with this condition. Tennis elbow afflicts the motion for dishwasher unloading (tragic, I know) but more importantly, it affects weed plucking and dirt combing and plant moving. Equanimity has sort of lost her fashionability right now. I have decided that because I love gardening more than I love unloading the dishwasher, that I will save the pain for the appliance and wince through the gardening.  I am OK with What Is and I’m defiant.

Gardening for me is a passion, a vice that I find hard to resist. I love splitting hostas, dividing peonies, liriope, ferns, bugloss (are you still with me?), lilies, irises, forget-me-nots, astilbe, lily-of-the-valley, bleeding hearts, nandina and wild violets. Yes, if you’re still with me, you can probably figure out by now that I have a shade garden for the most part. 

the fiddlerhead of an unfurling fern

As I’ve said, “I love plants that make their own babies!” 

bleeding hearts, aren’t they wonderful? 

we are not in this gig, life, alone: even this peony needs an ant to help him / her along. and it takes TIME… about 3 weeks from first ant sighting to bloom: there’s a lot of trust required. 

When we moved into this house almost 12 years ago, the back yard was nothing like it is now. It had 18 tree stumps, almost no grass, a white, plastic, scalloped border around every tree and in the corners. That was awful: I wanted the trees to be like a parkland: in the grass, part of the experience. Setting them off? That was just weird. The yard also had very compacted soil and a single bed of shade-loving annuals along the back fence and a ton of random planters placed upside-down to cover the tree stumps. 

Since 2000, we have upgraded the backyard to be a very nice, lush and cozy place. Of the last two years, the Field Family botanical campaign of has been: Operation Decorum, Screen Shirtless Mike. We have endeavored through non-deciduous means to build an evergreen screen along the fence-line that separates us from our neighbor, “Shirtless Mike.” 

The neighbor, “Shirtless Mike” has been our backyard guy for the whole time. We call him “SM” because well, he doesn’t wear a shirt. Ever. He’s in pretty good shape, but c’mon, it’s sorta ridiculous. He just had a bypass last December. My Australian neighbor who moved away, used to call him “Mr. Big’n’Chesty.” While he’s a pretty decent guy and he’s nice to my kids, I’ll never forget what he said to me the first time we met when I was seven months pregnant with Thing 2. Thing 1 was doing his best drunken sailor / toddler routine through the new yard. We were taking a break from unpacking and our dog, Maggie, was relieving herself, trotting and sniffing.  Shirtless Mike said as he gestured his arm to shake over the fence and into our domain, “Hello. Nice to meet you. She [the former owner] kept it real clean.” 

I felt like saying, “What clean? This backyard? This wasteland? This dustbowl of dead grass and holes, her rusting swing set (that we replaced with a wooden one), the 70-year-old double-leader red oak in the driveway that’s got a hole the size of my husband’s jelly cupboard in it, or that decomposing red wagon she left behind that’s covering three tree stumps? Or could it be that you’re referring to her complete lack of the botanic aesthetic? No problem. I’ll just let my golden retriever shit all over the dirt and maybe something will come up.” What I said instead was, “Oh, yes. Well, I’m pregnant, we’ve just moved in and we have a boy and a dog. We will do what we can cough*asshole*cough.”   

our well-loved swingset

I’ve been known to appropriately cough*asshole*cough at just about any asshole deserving of it. Just ask my friends.

I should have considered the source. This guy has all of his gardens, excuse me, hosta of one variety only behind retaining walls. Which of course makes sense if you’re on a slope, but we’re not. In fact, everything is behind a retaining wall. Even his shirts, I’m guessing. He clearly likes things Just So. Especially that stack of mulch bags that he keeps in his yard for six months and the dying crabapple tree in his front yard.  His retaining walls have retaining walls. I’ve heard he works for the CIA. So if I’m silent for a really long time, I’m either finally committing to my book(s) or I’m in one of his gardens, behind a retaining wall, likely the one nearest the mulch bags under the brick landing he has beneath his bird feeder to keep seeds from germinating. 

So much for equanimity. It is elusive. 

Who was it? Frost who said “Good fencing makes for good neighbors.”? He was brilliant. My natural screen fencing will take years to grow, but that is part of its charm; it is teaching me to be equanimous. 

So here I am (actually truly on my deck) overlooking over my .23 acre domain with my buddy neighbor at 1 o’clock and I know that when I have her and my other friend, that Crazy Broad from Queens around, I’m equanimous because they force me to be so. They remind me to my face: This Is What It Is. Deal. 

And when I have my garden around, I have no choice. When I have my kids around, I must be OK with what is or if I’m not, take a pulse from the Team and friends to see what we need to do to bring any one of them back. I’m learning, from my garden to be equanimous because I have no choice. 

Equanimity eventually wins. Right?!

Which begs the question then: who’s elusive? Is it equanimity? Or is it me? Cough*shutup*cough. I know. It’s me.  

I can hear a neighbor mowing their lawn in the dark. It’s 8:50 now. The sun set an hour ago. 

The garden beds will turn out OK or they won’t. They tomatoes, basil, cukes, eggplant (I know! Come over and we’ll nosh!) will grow or they won’t. I think they might. I’ve never grown eggplant before; I’ll let you know.  As for the kids, we’ve got plenty of >fleeting!< time. They will behave or they won’t. The bottom line is that I have to be OK with it and work when it doesn’t. 

The thing is: it’s spring! It’s time for renewal so everyone gets a pass, a mulligan. It’s what we do with this renewal, this mulligan, that matters. Do we squander and repeat? Or do we truly grow, with the luscious breaths of equanimity, and move on? 

But I’ve figured part of this out: I’m elusive; equanimity is right here like she always has been. 

Thank you. 

International Women’s Day: I’m Late to the Party, but My Roots are Done


Yesterday was International Women’s Day.  I wanted to post something yesterday but am late to this party.  I was busy driving my children around to either soccer, tennis, guitar, chess, or basketball. Or I was walking the dog, chatting with and supporting or being supported by friends, remembering to take my vitamins, going to yoga, having lunch with another friend, wishing I could drink coffee after 4pm, cleaning the house, watching the kids play out front so they don’t get killed by car drivers, folding laundry, starting a new load of wash, ovulating, unloading the dishwasher, loading it from the dishes left on the table after breakfast and making dinner.  After that, I fell asleep reading a book. 

International Women’s Day started in the 1900s which was a time of great cultural change.  Anyone who’s watched “Downton Abbey” knows this.  The first organized march of 15,000 women was held in New York City in 1908 to demand shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights.  I look back at what I comprehend of Women’s History and I stagger at the tremendous changes that have occurred in the last 104 years since that first march.  I am grateful for the changes those 15,000 women effected: Title IX and ERA are the least political and so I’ll stop there. 

Just so you know, it was first called “International Working Women’s Day.” 

This is fascinating (from Wikipedia): In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.”  

So it turns out someone thought they could just mush it into another day of loving us. Not so fast, we might have a headache. 

Turns out there is an International Men’s Day.  It’s not the Superbowl. 

~ ~ ~

I  have many women friends who are writers, activists, nurses, veterinarians, teachers, yoginis, politicians, therapists, personal trainers, advocates, film makers, maintenance workers, educators, athletes, healers, chefs, actors, lawyers, wives, ex-wives, step-mothers, musicians, artists, poets, doctors, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and mothers.  In my current occupation, mother-woman, I am all these things . . . except the grandmother, ex-wife and step-mother.   

So given that I’m a wife-daughter-aunt-sister-mother-woman, it’s perfectly acceptable then that I’d be a little behind celebrating International Women’s Day.  What with being celebrated so gloriously yesterday.  I’m just getting around to returning all the phone calls and cataloguing the gifts I received.  Really.   

One of my favorite songs of all time, “Mary” by Patty Griffin is about Jesus’ mother, Mary (perhaps you’ve heard of her), and in it Patty paints a wonderful scene and sums up how it is for a mother-woman (divine or not):

Jesus says ‘Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer’
Flys right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ His praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

As testament to my mother-womanhood, Thing 2 (11) made a comment yesterday that was innocently oblivious to the International Women’s Day phenomenon.  He looked at my hair and said in a tone that could not belie the shock on his face and behind his copper eyes, “Mom! WHAT’S THAT WHITE LINE IN YOUR HAIR?!” 

I wasn’t wearing a baseball cap. This is the same child who tells me daily how beautiful I am. He’s a charmer (albeit sincere) and anyone with a 9-12 year-old daughter within a mile until he starts driving better prepare themselves because he’s a sweetie too.  I had to explain to him that my hair isn’t #4N:, intensely natural dark brown, all over. 

Today, I write to you from the cold office that rests upon the front of my home. It’s 49˚ outside so that means it’s close to 60˚ in here.  Along with shivering in my office, I write to you prompted by Thing 2 and his shock as #4N soaks into the strands atop my head.  I have been going gray since high school.  

Hmm . . . apparently only English-speaking and Spanish-speaking women color their own hair because the instructions are only in their respective languages. 

I’m glad I still have the gloves on my hands because every once in a while I have an itch from the chemicals on my head and I have to scratch it.  I’m a pro though and the color won’t get on my keyboard because I’ve strategically put on a brown sweater that should nicely match the dye that I’ll rub on it after scratching my scalp.  In the warmer months, I color my hair wearing a formerly white beat-up Ralph Lauren Polo button-down shirt  which looks like a bird that ate only chocolate followed me around one day outside and compulsively ‘shat’ all over me.  With the brown sweater, it just looks like I’ve been pelted with something browner than the sweater.  I love saying “shat”; it’s past tense for “shit” right?

This is how I celebrate my womanhood. 

When this process is over, in about 10 minutes, I’ll go rinse and then change into clothes for the day.  Along with ability and choice to color my hair, another great thing about being a first-world woman is that I often wonder if what I’m wearing is suitable for my “age.” I’m 44 and although I’m exercise regularly I have become distracted of late by a yet another phrase to designate that I don’t know what I’m doing: “age appropriate clothing.” So along with wondering if my roots need coloring, I’m concerned if what I’m wearing would make children cry or offend the Blue-Haired Ladies of the Order of Sweater and Pearls. 

“Screw ’em,” says my inner Eve.  

But then I argue, “Oh Eve, don’t be such a rebel.  They’re women too. They might have marched in 1908.  We should honor and celebrate them also by dressing appropriately.  Even if they judge me by my hem or my waistline.  They wouldn’t do that, would they? They’re pro-women!” 

Eve retorts, “Whatev.  Hey. Do men wonder if they’re not dressing for their age? Bahhahahah! Never heard of it.  A t-shirt and jeans on a guy is the same as a t-shirt and jeans on a boy kid or a t-shirt and jeans on an 80-year-old.  That wardrobe (mal)function happens all the time. Go for it. I cleared the way.  Adam still wears his grape leaf. ”  

So after putting on a hoodie and sweatpants, I’ll put in my contact lenes and use a rotating  electric exfoliator brush on my face To Get It 6x Cleaner Than Washing By Hand.  Then I’ll give 2 pumps worth of “Intense Wrinkle Repair” moisturizer that I will cover with “Healthy Skin SPF 15” moisturizer with alpha-hydroxy and vitamins.  If I give a damn, which I usually don’t, I’ll put on some tinted sunscreen that will help me not Deny My Age, but Defy My Age! 

~ ~ ~

I’m back.  I just rinsed out the color and it looks about as natural as that of the alien female crew member on “Galaxy Quest.”  My son definitely won’t view me with confusion and horror today when he comes home.  

I only just discovered that yesterday was The Day yesterday in the late morning, I didn’t get any head’s up. I guess my Woman card has been revoked. 

Wait a minute.  If my card has been revoked, what about all the so-called scandalous females?  

A couple years ago, I read Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy,  and I hoped it would be a searing examination of the state of feminism and its progress and challenges.  I also hoped it would sear and indict females who have managed to reduce the entire gender by indulging in the fantasies of the male-dominated media establishment.  Sadly, I was underwhelmed; it was a lot like a blind date.  In fact the book exposed me to greater confusion and overall sense of “waah” than I had when I started it; it told me about stuff I’d never considered.  It made me wish I never opened it.  To me it blamed the state of our collective anti-female woes on all of us.  Why, for not killing the errant females?  And I really resented it.  Levy did talk about how men entice/pay/intoxicate young women to do things like expose themselves and smash face with each other for “Girls Gone Wild” and the like, but in the final analysis, when it comes to sex (as a verb — not to be confused with “gender”): we are all acting on instinct.  Under the influence or not — if someone wants to release or meet the pheromones, it’s gonna happen without any permission at all. 

If we’re gonna go for blaming it on the guys, what better chance of seeing how they really are when women aren’t around than by insinuating ourselves into their scene? To this end, I read Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent which was utterly fascinating.  It’s a first-person memoir of Vincent’s commitment for an entire year to conduct herself outside her apartment in drag, disguised as a man as she engaged in male-only activities with at least three separate sets of male groups.  One group was a bowling team, another was a professional arena where she joined her male colleagues as they went to  strip clubs.  The third scenario was her most trying experience: she joined in men’s group therapy.  The book was compassionate toward men and put a lot of my assumptions about men on their heads as well as confirmed things that the supposed sixth sense of motherhood (we all have it, actually, we just need to listen to it) already told me: all children, regardless of gender need to feel safe to express themselves emotionally.  And, at the risk of repeating myself (but I will):  in the final analysis, when it comes to sex (as a verb — not to be confused with “gender”): we are all acting on instinct.  Under the influence or not — if someone wants to release or meet the pheromones, it’s gonna happen without any permission at all.  Vincent subsequently had herself committed to a mental hospital after writing the book for the emotional toll the experience had on her.  She chronicled her time in recovery in Voluntary Madness.  

What yesterday made me think about was my commitment to the opinion that if we’re going to honor women, we can’t pick and choose.  We don’t get to say, “this woman is worth celebrating, but this one isn’t.”

So when we celebrate Women next March 8, you need to ask yourself: do we celebrate all women, not just Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Jackie Kennedy, Condoleeza Rice, the Virgin Mary, Annie Sullivan and Eve? Because if we are to be fair, we have to celebrate all the others: Anna Nicole Smith, Lindsay Lohan, Mary Magdelen,  Lot’s Wife (who apparently didn’t get a name), Bathsheba, Casey Anthony, Condoleeza Rice (2), Vanna White, Marilyn Monroe, Andrea Yates, The Real Housewives of Wherever, and the evil step mothers in all the Grimms Fairy Tales.  Of course, to make it easier and politically correct, we can be obtuse and just celebrate their “Essence,” their inherent goodness, and not necessarily what they’ve done, committed, achieved because or in spite of their gender.  That’s really safest, right?  

If you watch “30 Rock“, you should get where I’m going: If we Celebrate International Women’s Day, we must celebrate smart and cheese-puff snarfing Liz Lemon and scheming, insecure hussy-actress Jenna Maroney: 

the captions: Jenna (upper): “Admit it, I look 10 years younger.”
Liz (lower): “No. Younger even. You look like a fetus.” 

What about the transgendered woman/man who had a baby? What do we celebrate there? 

Celebrate all you want, but I still think we’ve got a long way to go, and I’m not talking about equal pay.  I’m talking about fair treatment of women by women.  Women can be awfully picky and competitive and unsupportive of each other.  Ever hear of conflict between mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law? How about sisters who fight?  The Devil Wears Prada? Or Death Becomes Her? Where does enmity this come from? Why are we snarky to each other behind each others’ backs? Or recall The Jerry Springer Show — why are we snarky to each others’ faces? Did men do this to us?  Is it the media that shapes our opinions of each other?  I wonder if aboriginal women in primitive cultures refer to one another in their vernacular as a “slut” or “bitch” or “stupid” or “fat” or “ugly” or “gold digger” or “useless.”  Maybe they do.  Maybe it’s not just a first-world problem.  

That’s why these days of commemoration confuse the hell out of me.  I choose to abstain.  I celebrate me and I celebrate you, whatever you are.  Unless you’re that transgendered man-woman-man that had a baby.  I just can’t get my arms around it. Sorry. 

The bottom line is that it’s complicated.  I hate labels.  And yes, I both celebrate and blame Eve, that minx. It‘s all her fault. That snake or legged reptile that was subsequently rendered legless for his betrayal had nothing to do with it.  Right? Oy.

But hey, my hair looks great. 

Thank you. 


Be Careful of What You Wish For


When we have a dog, we usually endeavor to train the dog to sit or stay and reward the dog for the obedience. After repetition and praise, we all are successful. (Don’t bother with cats. You are their staff.)

When we call the dog and the dog comes, we reward the dog with a treat or a loving, non-aggressive response, and the dog feels safe and sometimes this safety is enough to feel rewarded.  After repetition and praise, we are all successful.

When we do this with a horse, the horse gets a carrot or treated kindly with love.  Request, praise, repeat.

When we do this with a dolphin, the dolphin gets a mackerel.  Request, praise, repeat.

This is called conditioning. This is called training.  This is also known as positive reinforcement.

What about when we have a dog that does something we don’t like? Say your dog poops in the house.  When we discover this, usually a while after the poop deposit, many people will chastise the dog, shove the dog’s nose in the poop and think they’ve trained the dog to not poop in the house.

Not so fast.  They’ve trained the dog to stay the hell away of the person who just called the dog.  

When we do this with our children:  when we discover they made a mess hours or several moments after it happened and we call them and scream at them for messing up, we are conditioning them to fear us when we call them.  If we do this enough, those kids will be afraid to move and will think everything is their fault.  And when they get their chance: they’re vapor.

When we tell the child that their grades are unacceptable and that they are lazy, they learn that only negative behavior gets a response.  So they keep that up. 

“Leave me alone!” 

When we freak out and get upset that a child or a dog or a horse or a dolphin doesn’t stay out of our things, or doesn’t mind their own business when we are on the phone or when they take something that doesn’t belong to them, we are training that child or mammal to not only respect our @)(*%@ privacy, we are training that child or mammal to stay away.  The mammal learns fast.  The mammal learns that even the remotest bit of toe-dipping into our pool of existence becomes one of trepidation.

We are turning our intrepid, innocent, loving, wide-eyed and imaginative children, or mammals into reactive, fearful, apprehensive and unsure beings.  We want our privacy, our things, our stuff respected, our “zones” of existence to be so separate and different than theirs. We get so much privacy that they never want to come back for fear of a negative response.  

Children and dolphins and dogs and horses aren’t born afraid.  We teach them this.  

We beat them down emotionally or otherwise to a point that we get so much privacy that they condition themselves to just stay away. Mission accomplished, right? 

~ ~ ~ 

If you are an adult child of a parent who wanted, craved and demanded privacy or who abdicated their parental obligations to a nanny or other surrogate and today you have a rocky relationship with that or those parents, don’t despair.  You were trained to give space.  You were trained to defer.  You were trained to not get involved.  You were trained to stay out.  Could your reactions now as an adult be that you are riddled with guilt and sadness for how things could have been if only you’d been a better kid to be invited?  I will recommend that you let it go.  Don’t sweat it, move on.  But that’s tough too.  But if you give yourself the gift of remembering that you weren’t born to fear or resent or to feel guilt, you will remember that you were conditioned.  We are not formed in a vacuum. 

But if you are an adult who craves your privacy and your “me” time and all the rest so you can be your creative best self,  be careful of what you wish for.  You want privacy?  You want your things left alone?  If you train enough, you just might get it and you’ll be left alone.  Now no one will disturb you.  Ever.  So when you’re 85 in a rocking chair wondering why no one comes to see you, remember this post.  You created this dynamic.  And again, if you’re the kid of a parent like that: you were trained.  

The good news: this can be reversed at any age.  But we all have to be willing to allow it.  Pride screws everything up.  Get out of your own way. 

thank you.