I had a large chunk of pig, and decided to divide it and cook it overnight so as to have choice of lunch items tomorrow. On the left is cranberry pork; on the right, southwestern pork. We shall see how they turn out.
As I have mentioned previously, when I was a preteen, the feminism movement was strong, and there was a tremendous push to encourage young girls: "you can do anything!" "You can have any career you choose, if you set your mind to it." "Girls are just as good at math, at science, at everything, as boys." I believed it. I had no sense that things might be otherwise. The all-girls high school I attended (and at which I received the most excellent education) further underscored the potential of each girl to achieve. We learned self-reliance, fortitude, perseverance. All very good traits that have served me well, not only in college, but thereafter, and always.
There is one downside, though, of which we were not aware then, and about which we were never taught:
The curse of the competent woman.
When you are smart and strong and capable, self-reliant and persevering, so much is expected of you. And you willingly take on task after task, juggling and multitasking, because women can do anything, so surely you should be able to do ALL THIS too.
And then, some days, you realize you are tired. And occasionally overwhelmed. Really, what you would like most of all is for someone to make you dinner and take care of all the million little things for a few hours, just so that you can have a respite from all the things that a competent woman does. But, you are a competent woman -- you can do. And so you do. You do not ask for help, because that is most definitely not what a competent woman does. You do, and do, and thus it becomes: barring an Absolutel Crisis, you are expected to continue to do all that you do.
Why? Because women can do anything if they set their minds to it.
So very tired.
Too tired to ask for help.
Perhaps, for now, a nap is best.
There are places I'll remember All my life, though some have changed Some forever, not for better Some have gone and some remain All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life, I've loved them all
I am not crafty at all. Yet, for some mysterious reason, I decided that I should make a decoration for the front door for this Easter season. Here is my effort. It is a bit humble, but not too bad overall.
Why are all the little things so... annoying?
Inability to speak a language well enough to haggle at a garage sale.
Absence of replacement toilet paper rolls in the ladies' room.
The slow driver who does not use turn signals.
A roll of tape that refuses to start cleanly.
These infinitesimal items -- oftentimes tolerable -- sometimes become less ignorable.
Why is this?
Sometimes, we hold a small, yet deep-rooted, anger inside. It is a seed that sprouts in the mulch of injustices and unkindnesses that have been bestowed upon us. It is watered by our righteousness in How Things Should Be. It is warmed by our unspoken and unmet hopes and desires. When we are thwarted or disappointed -- that kernel grows. When we are lonely or heartsick -- it grows. When we are wronged -- oh, how it grows.
Our senses are heightened by the presence of that internal anger. Sometimes, its verdant growth casts a shadow over all else: and then the minuscule grievances that might otherwise be not worth mentioning, seem to stand out in stark relief. We are weighed down by the anger within, and so, we lash out at the petty annoyances. They seem to be clear examples of All That Is Wrong With The World.
Anger is a tricky emotion. It is one of the very few that (as society tells us) Men are legitimately allowed to show. Women, on the other hand, must not show their anger: our job is to placate, to mollify, to dismiss, excuse, smooth over, forgive, forget -- and anger has no place there. Someday I will dissect the Male and Female of Anger.
Today, though, the question is: what to do with our anger?
For anger that is based in How We Want Things To Be, the solution appears to be:
Acknowledge that This Is The Way It Is.
Generally speaking, we cannot change the ways of the world.
Specifically speaking, we cannot change other people.
Wanting, expecting, or hoping otherwise is folly.
(This, we know -- yet it is eternally human to Hope, despite all odds.)
If we let go of What Is Not, we can accept what Is.
Acceptance is the first step to letting go of Anger.
An old hit from Depeche Mode -- Enjoy the Silence -- is enjoying a resurgence, thanks to a remix/cover version by KI Theory that is apparently being used in a trailer for a movie, Ghost in the Shell. (I know nothing about Ghost in the Shell. I am an old person.)
Nevertheless, I do like the cover. Take a listen. What do you think?
Stressed males tend to become more self-centered and less able to distinguish their own emotions and intentions from those of other people. For women the exact opposite is true... [s]tressed women, however, become more 'prosocial'....
Sometimes, I think that men and women are not so different. Other times, I suspect that they are nearly different species in their thoughts, motivations and actions. The truth no doubt lies somewhere between the two poles.
I do not spend much time with other women. My offspring are grown, and so there is no young-mother camaraderie at the playground; I have traditionally worked in male-dominated fields, and so my peers and colleagues have more often tended to be men. I am not particularly interested in stereotypical "girly" activities such as shopping or hair/makeup/clothing styling, or even yoga or drinking wine, and so have not had much opportunity to meet and interact with other women over such bonding pastimes.
In truth, I do not necessarily feel as though I am 'missing' such female companionship. While I might occasionally be lonely for company, the company I would like is person-specific, and not generally gender-based.
Perhaps the crux of the matter lies in the degree of empathy I already use on a daily basis: there is a set group of people to whom I am empathetic and with whom I concern myself. There is only so much Me, and there are days -- many days -- when I think that I cannot take on another person, cannot spare any additional empathy because there is none left.
Would that be different if I knew more women? Perhaps if I had a more consistent wellspring of comfort and empathy for myself, I could draw strength from it, and could in turn nurture more people. It seems that other women might provide such a source. I cannot imagine having such a wellspring, though -- I may have done without it for so long, that it seems a foreign concept at the moment.
Right now, self-preservation requires that I limit use of my resources, lest I give too much of myself away and crumble.
All three of the Offspring were in the nest for several days this past week. It was lovely to have them all here -- there is something undeniably comforting about having them all in one location. (Must be the herding dog tendencies that many mothers have; circle circle circle everyone is accounted for and safe and sound circle circle circle.) I brought in some take-out food from a local restaurant one night; another night, we all went to the movies; and the final night I cooked steaks for the meat-eaters and fancy ravioli for the vegetarian. We hung out, and got along. It was Very Nice Indeed.
Sometimes, I look back and think about times past, when we would have pancakes for dinner and I would read them books before bedtime. When I could, many times, somehow magically ascertain the things they needed, and the words they needed to hear. When running through the sprinkler or going to the park was all we needed to be happy.
Sometimes I think about how I could have been a better mother when they were young.
I hope they know that I tried, and will keep trying, every day, always. I am here for you, my beloved Offspring, no matter how near or far you may be. Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
I have quite a fondness for Lady Gaga. She is an outspoken champion of marginalized people (especially in the LGBTQ community); she is creative; and boy, can she sing. She is occasionally over the top (see, e.g., the Meat Dress she wore to the MTV Video Music Awards some years back), but in truth, her raw talent carries her beyond any attention-grabbing antics.
Try this one on for size. You and I. It is perplexing, visually fascinating, and a simple and charming song as well.
A Facebook friend posted the below picture today.
It did not sit well with me.
"Women were created to do everything a man can't do." Technically, the only thing a man can't do is to gestate. So does that mean that women were created solely to gestate?
I understand that men and women are different, and that complementary people make good matches. Yet the idea that women are being lessened somehow when they are seeking parity for doing things that men also do, is just not right.
Equality does not mean sameness. It means equal treatment in status, rights, and opportunities. Whether we choose to maintain that status, to use those rights or to take advantage of those opportunities, is up to us.
Let us hope that we will, some day, achieve parity.
I am developing a cold.
I thoroughly despise being sick.
I remember, a thousand years ago now, what it was like to sick as a child. I'd stay in my room. Sometimes I would get the small black and white television to keep me company, set up on a chair a few feet away from the bed. There were only the four channels -- ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS -- and I would have to get out of bed to change the channel (which meant usually that I did not). New Zoo Revue was standard sick television fare.
I would occasionally get that tasty orange-flavored aspirin, or, if antibiotics were necessary, pills ground up into a little bit of applesauce (not so bad). I would get meals in my room -- soft-boiled egg in the egg cup, toast, ginger ale, soup -- and periodically would be instructed to go take a shower to cool off, and I would return from the bathroom to fresh and clean sheets.
It was no fun being sick. I did feel cared for, though.
(Looking back, I have realized that I previously wrote a post almost exactly like this - here. The sentiments are still exactly the same. Indeed.)
April the Giraffe (http://www.aprilthegiraffe.com/) is hugely pregnant, and, thanks to a strategically placed webcam, thousands and thousands of people have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of her calf. We all hope it is soon -- including, no doubt, April. She waddles around, looking vaguely uncomfortable. (I am reminded of the last days before Offspring the First was born -- lots of waddling around, being vaguely uncomfortable.) Her keepers ensure that she is receiving lots of attention, plus extra carrots -- she reaches for them with her tongue, taking them from a human hand that stretches out to her from just behind the camera. It is amusing.
I hope she delivers soon. My empathy for her heavily pregnant state is tremendous.
Dignified, reserved, clever, and ever-so-intelligent Offspring the Second turns twenty-two today.
How time flies.
He is such a lovely and thoughtful person; under his quiet exterior is a razor-sharp wit and a tender heart. It is a pleasure to spend time with him on those rare occasions when he is here. His is a quiet light -- but it always shines.
Happy birthday, Offspring the Second. May the Universe bring you All Good Things, Always.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains solely a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a lovely red fish named Ruth Betta Finsburg. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.