Archive for March, 2013



My Letter to Calvin Klein

Dear Calvin-

Can I call you Calvin? It seems that I know you, and you are always smiling in such a kind and generous way, with that flowing mane of white hair. Oh, wait. I think that’s Ralph Lauren. I’m not even sure I know what you look like. Hmmm. Awkward. . .


Well. You make beautiful clothes. I especially love your casual Tshirts and more dressy items like your jersey knit shells, tanks, and dressy shrugs. (Frankly I haven’t tried on a pair of your jeans since college, because they fit me then, and, well, you know.) Where was I? Oh, yes. The tops — the knits are so soft and drapey, the fit is always just right, the colors so richly hued and seem to hold their color through washing after washing.

But there is one problem, Calvin, dear.

The tags.

The tags in your shirts seem to be made of Kevlar. They are stiff, and scratchy, and seem to be attached to the garment with some kind of industrial-strength steel thread.

Victoria’s Secret has solved this problem; American Rag has solved this problem; for crying out loud, Hanes has solved this problem.

It’s called a stamp. Or, perhaps, you could use a fabric as soft as that of the garment. Or maybe, if the tag means so much to you, you could wear it.

Augh! Something's scratchy!

Augh! Something’s scratchy!

Just a suggestion.

Meanwhile, perhaps you could recommend a salve for this rash I now have on the back of my neck? I’d really appreciate it.


my take, takes, or lack thereof, on the Steubenville rape and trial


Just read this excellent article by Jessica Valenti in The Nation.

Have been thinking about this case all week, trying to figure out how I really feel about all this.

The thought process goes something like this:

How awful!

How could she be so drunk that she’s throwing up repeatedly and passing out, and no one’s helping her?

How could they take such advantage of her in such a compromised condition?

Teenage guys want sex, and will take advantage of any opportunity to get it.

But how could they take such advantage of her in such a compromised condition?

Why didn’t someone take care of her? She was clearly incapacitated, a true friend would have taken her home.

But remember those parties in high school, when ________ would always drink too much and end up in bed with someone? None of us did anything, we didn’t think it was our business.

Yeah, but none of us took pictures with our cell phones and posted them on facebook either.

We didn’t have facebook or cell phones, and _______ took that one Polaroid that one time.

Yeah, but __________ grabbed it from him and tore it up. Besides, we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about this.

Where were the parents? How did these kids get so much alcohol? And has no one taught this girl not to drink so much that she loses her ability to make decisions? And what’s up with the coach brushing this off? Was he really so callous? He must not have understood what was really going on.

But has no one taught these boys that it’s inappropriate to take advantage of someone who has clearly drunk so much that are incapacitated?

But they’re teenage boys, they’re suffering from hormone-induced mental illness.

But they still should know better. And how could they continue to be so heartless that really the only thing they are worried about is their reputation and their football career? What about her reputation?

And does he really think that texting her trying to talk her out of pressing charges because he “took care of her” is a valid argument? Really? How well was he taking care of her when he was raping her?

But they’re all young and oversexed and half of them probably go to these parties expecting to get drunk and have sex with someone.

But it’s clearly wrong, they clearly raped her, as she was in no condition to grant or deny consent.

But how could she let herself get into that condition?

How can these boys not know the difference between sex and rape?

etc. etc. etc.

They’re children. They have no judgment skills. Maybe the best solution is to not let anyone out of a parent’s sight until they’ve recovered from adolescence-induced hormone poisoning — girls around 18, boys, I hear, around 26 (sigh). I know that as a parent I have tried to teach my children everything they need to know to be good, kind, considerate, contributing members of society. That no always means no. That they should respect themselves, and everyone else.  I also know that they have, and will, do things on occasion that I don’t agree with (although I am pretty sure none of my children have done anything even remotely like this). I also look back on my 16-year old self and shudder. The only criterion for me liking a boy was if he liked me; I drank too much wine with a friend, whose dad made it himself and stored it in vast carboys, almost every Friday night, we would go to school dances drunk, and throw up on the tennis courts after; I had this other friend I already  mentioned who would always get too drunk at parties, and go to bed with any number of the “popular,” “in” guys. We didn’t do anything to stop it. WE DIDN’T THINK IT WAS OUR BUSINESS.

Granted, my parents didn’t talk to me much about any of these things. They were either too uncomfortable to, or too clueless to know that they should.

There’s a disconnect, probably partially borne of being adolescent and having no judgment skills; of being children who want to believe they’re adults; of living in a society where a blow job is referred to as a “good night kiss” and everyone’s violating their own privacy daily on social media. But don’t we all look back at things we did at 16, and realize how incredibly stupid we were? And maybe most of us were just lucky. Really, really lucky.

I hope you all realize that I am not making excuses for these two boys, nor for all of the people who stood around and not only let it happen, but documented it. I’m also not really making an excuse for this girl. We want her to be respected, she has a right not to be violated, but she didn’t respect herself, either, and removed her own agency by allowing herself to become so incapacitated that she couldn’t even say no. They were all very, very in the wrong. My question is, how far from that wrong were many of us at the same age? Probably (hopefully) not on par with the rapists, but what about the rest?


Is this only me? Am I the only one who sees this this way? I feel/fear that there is something wrong with me, that I’m not so willing just to point my finger and shout “You! You rapists!” Why is this issue, that is usually so black and white for me, giving me so much trouble in this case?


In a strange mental connection (my mind works in mysterious ways), one of the rapist’s claims of being a “nice guy” and “taking care of her” reminded me of this discussion of “nice guys”:

Some of the language is a little raw, but I like his points overall. I think he’s probably a really nice guy.


maybe not cut out for it after all

A friend had posted a link to this article on her facebook page; an article which outlines 22 things that “Happy” people do differently, presumably from “Unhappy” people.

I thought about linking into it on what I have taken to referring to as “the guru project,” but after I clicked and read through all of the things I’m supposed to “do” in order to be “happy” all I could think was “Who has the time?” Exercise, meditate, dream big, keep up with my friends, spend significant time with my family, get up early???

I despair.

Maybe I’m just not cut out for this.

And no, I’m not one of those women who “want it all.” Who wants it all? I can barely keep track of what I have already. And I kind of wish we would stop being told that we can or can’t have it (all), when really all we want is to be paid fairly, have access to decent child care and affordable health insurance, maybe a school schedule that doesn’t have days off and two hour delays every 6 days, and people in the house who help with the dishes and clean up after themselves.

But get up early?

I had to be at a TV studio at 8:30 this morning, and at 7:20 still couldn’t find my black dress pants, and the coffee grinder was broken, and I realized a) how infrequently I actually have to BE somewhere in the morning and b) how much I really dislike having to BE somewhere in the morning. So I’ll dream big, as long as it doesn’t require me to be at a desk at 9 a.m. 5 days a week, and I’m not going to get up early. (Youcan’tmakemesothere.)





to engage, or not to engage, that is the question

A friend and professional colleague (someone who works in the same field, and with whom I have performed in the past) recently posted a query on facebook, seeking advice to give a student who was considering getting a nose piercing. Specifically, the student wanted to know if it might adversely affect his/her audition outcomes, apparently by causing those judging the audition to prejudicially form an opinion of their merit or respectability.

A long series of comments ensued, including this, from me: “I’m 48 (omg!) and have a nose piercing, and it has had, as far as I can tell, no negative impact whatsoever. I think it makes some of my younger students think I’m possibly still at least a little bit cool, but that might just be in my imagination.”

Some more comments follow, of the “sure why not” or “if they’re going to teach parents might find it threatening” (really?) persuasion, and then this: “Well refined and well educated and well mannered people don’t do all the body piercing. To me, it’s a psychological thing to draw attention to oneself, for reasons I don’t understand.”

Wow. Judgement, dismissal, and insult, all in one sentence. Seems, if she doesn’t understand, she should refrain from commenting. . .

But now for my question: would you engage this person (I don’t know her from, as my former father-in-law used to say, $6 a week), telling her that she is being judgmental and dismissive and insulting, or does one just let her continue on down her path of willful negativity and ignorance?


and the award goes to. . .

Jennifer Lawrence, for wit and grace under pressure; also known as “maintaining poise and humor while answering stupid questions from the press.”

I mean, really — these are the best questions they can come up with? Seems like they don’t even need to be asked.

Anyway. I think she’s terrific. She was fantastic in Winter’s Bone, she’s young and beautiful and confident and not a wisp.

My only regret is I managed not to see this until today.


is it really true?

Two thoughts, as I head off to bed to start reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

I commented to Husband tonight that the three most loyal and vocal followers on my blog are all men* (and he’s not one of them; guess he hears enough from me in the real world). He replies that he thinks that there are quite a lot of men out there who really appreciate and enjoy women, and that women, often, are not really all that supportive of each other.

While I think this is not true in terms of personal relationships — except for him, all of my truly close friends in my “real” life are women, I do think it can be true professionally.

And this got me thinking about something Ms. Sandberg apparently says in her book (I am remembering this from an interview; perhaps the NPR one I referenced a few posts ago) — that women look around at the few other women around “the table,” and realize that only one of them is going to get promoted, as the token Woman in a Position of Power, so, therefore, the other women are her direct competitors. And not in a we’re-all-going-to-do-our-best-and-whoever-does-it-best-gets-the-prize-GO-Team!!!; but in a we’re-all-going-to-do-our-best-and-whoever-doesn’t-piss-off-the-most-men-by-appearing-to-be-shrill-or-godforbidbossyassertive-is-g0ing-to-get-the-prize.

She wants us to demand a place at the table, to raise our hands, to speak our minds.

But what about when we’ve done that, over and over and over again, and it’s only hurt us?

Then what?

. . .  Guess I’ll have to read the book and find out.

Or maybe not.

*Thank you oldblack, Quieter Elephant, and TEStazyk


The Why’s and Wherefore’s

Husband often asks me, when I’m about to initiate a difficult conversation, say, (or maybe even an argument,) with someone, if I have first figured out what I hope to accomplish. I guess that understanding this is perhaps a worthy goal for just about everything we do in a day.

Have been trying to figure this out myself, since three days ago when I decided that I really wanted to start a second blog. Why not just post these thoughts in the blog I already have?

I do actually hope that some of my current blog followers will follow this one as well. (Hint-hint-nudge-nudge-wink-wink)

But I want this one to be different.

So back to the question, worded in a slightly different way: Why bother?

What, exactly, does this thing I’m about to do (fill in the blank) accomplish . . . and I would complete that sentence . . .  that will help fulfill my personal/emotional/spiritual goals as a person with a short time on this planet and a whole lot of life I’d like to live?

And here’s what, why, how, at least, as best I can explain it:

I (like to) believe we’re all searching for what I, for lack of a better term, will call Enlightenment. To live, laugh, love, better and more fully; to find Happiness, by which I mean the inner state that has nothing to do with the outer circumstances, but which resides deep within, burning like an ember; maybe to do one thing every day that feels like we Made a Difference.

(It’s funny, but it reminds me of the conversation I had with Husband the other day about that tattoo I’m trying to talk myself into/out of getting: Chinese characters that say “Live the moment.” But then I thought, and said, “But what if the moment sucks?”)


I want to try to post one thing each day for a year that helps toward this goal: to live, laugh, love, better and more fully; to find Happiness, that inner state that has nothing to do with outer circumstances; to do one thing every day that Made a Difference. It might be something I read, something I observed, something I did or said or that someone did or said to me. Every single one of them could probably fit under the category I call “Grace.” Some of it might be obvious (Duh!), some hopefully insightful, some somewhere in between. Maybe you’ll have heard it before, maybe it will remind you of something that you would like to share. There won’t be the same type of political commentary, or feminist “propaganda,” or making fun of advertising. Well, unless they contribute toward my quest for enlightenment. Who knows, maybe I’ll find that it’s not necessary, or not getting read, and abandon it entirely. I suppose I could start a separate category, but for some inexplicable reason, I want it to be separate.

Maybe it’s silly to think we can find Enlightenment at all — it is the ongoing quest of some of whom I already consider to be the most enlightened people I know — but maybe we’ll all feel better knowing that we’re looking together.

The new blog can be found at: I’m going to post this same post as my “introduction,” well, except for this paragraph — that would be weird — so please read on. After this, I will not duplicate.

Hope to see you there.


what is this man thinking?

tight pants

a) That’s funny — they fit me 16 years ago.

b) I can’t feel my _ _ _ _ _

c) C a n ‘ t .  .   .    .     .      .       b    r     e       a         t          h           e   .      .        .          .         😵


Is Having a Child a “Rational” Decision, part 2

This article in NPR discusses some writings on the topic.

You can read it, or not, before commenting.

I would vote no. Just ran across a funny line in Liz Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, where her friend tells her that having a child is like getting a tattoo on your face — you should be really sure before doing it.

But how can anyone be sure of something for which they can have no possible idea what it will actually be like before they do it, one might ask, not-all-that-rhetorically.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it, or that I regret it, I’m just saying that what I thought it would be before I went ahead (and had THREE for crying out loud!) resembles very little what it actually was.

Just sayin’.



March is Feminist Manifesto Month

(Because I say so.)

Shall I read this first?

Or this?.

Or this?


a day in the life, aka parenting in two parts

Can you guess the age of the perpetrator?^ (Left on the kitchen table for 2 days; I actually thought there were still brownies within.)




Only Daughter, as the only remaining-at-home child of a perpetually-distracted parent in her late 40s has developed some bad habits regarding snacking. To be specific, junk food junk food junk food. The daily salt intake could preserve an entire ham. She tried to take salami (no bread) and goldfish (the cracker) in her lunch one day; the day after I had discovered that between when she got home on the bus (4:10 p.m.) and dinner (7:30 p.m.) she had eaten salami, a large cereal bowl full of pistachios, a same-size bowl of tortilla chips and salsa and a same-size bowl of goldfish (the cracker). Yesterday Husband came out to get her dinner while I was at a rehearsal to discover that she was in the process of eating chips and salsa for the THIRD TIME that day.

This morning we had the first of a two-part conversation regarding healthful eating and what’s going to happen to her favorite food choices if she doesn’t start demonstrating some ability to make reasonable decisions.* This includes my approval of what she eats for breakfast, what she puts in her lunch, and permission for any snacks. Like when she was four. (She’s 12 going on 25. As if.)

The second part will include a list of foods that she can eat as much of as she’d like (spinach, carrots, whole wheat toast with peanut butter)(rightthat’llhappen) and foods that need to be approached a bit more judiciously (everything that she eats when given the chance).

Here is my contribution towards judiciousness, waiting to greet her when she arrives home from school today (during which time I will be teaching a piano lesson):


^The perpetrator is 19. He tried to tell me the other day, when I was questioning his decision not to work over spring break, that he was “20” and that I should trust him to make his own decisions. This was two days before he told me that his housing payment had been due a few days earlier, that he needed me to pay it since he was out of savings. It was also the day that he washed his popcorn pan while leaving the rest of the dishes in the sink and was doing all of his laundry in our washing machine using our soap.

You know, some species eat their young. (I hear they taste like chicken.)

*Second Son also tried to convince me the other day that his bad eating habits are my fault. Since I raised him feeding him mostly healthful foods, he has developed a taste for white bread, cereal of the Cap’n Crunch persuasion, and Kraft macaroni and cheese. If I had raised him on junk, he would now be a vegan. He actually told me this, and I believe that he actually believes it.



These two amazing people create beautiful works of art from the tons (I’m not exaggerating) of plastic they harvest from a small stretch of beach. They are completely aware of the irony.

“PLASTIC BEACH” Prepare To Be Amazed.

I will take this opportunity to reiterate a point I’ve made a few times before: don’t use plastic that you are going to throw away unless you can’t possibly help it. 

As they point out — the opposite of beauty isn’t ugly, it’s indifference.


Customer Service, local banking style

Received a letter from my bank recently, outlining my complimentary enrollment in the bank’s “Overdraft Privilege” program. The key points of this privileged status are outlined as such:

  • Should an overdraft occur, your account will be assessed the standard NSF fee of $32 for handling each item even if paid by the discretionary Overdraft Privilege services.
  • If multiple items are presented against your account on the same day, each item will be assessed the appropriate NSF fee or returned item fee of $32, up to a limit of five (5) fees per day.
  • ___________Bank has the discretion, but is not agreeing and does not have an obligation to pay your overdrafts and we may withdraw or reduce the amount of this privilege at any time.

Umm, thanks?

Guess the “Privilege” part is the part where you agree not to accidentally, manipulate the circumstances so as to charge me more than $160 a day?

They wasted paper and a stamp to tell me this? Seems like they could have just given me the finger and spat on my shoes or something.

Right up there with the bank that charges me an overdraft for not having the money in my checking account to make a house payment that’s already been paid.

I’m beginning to think I’m really in the wrong business.


this week in advertising

Ugliest. Bathing. Suit. Ever.  Just sayin'.

Ugliest. Bathing. Suit. Ever. Just sayin’.


Didn't get it then; don't get it now.

Didn’t get it then; don’t get it now.

This one says it all.




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