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

Reader Appreciation Award

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