I’m happy. This is a very strange feeling for me and one that was foreign. But I’d been noticing it of late: things don’t piss me off, my short fuse has gotten longer, and I generally approach things with equanimity. And people. I like people now. It was hard for me to identify this fact in me because I guess I’ve never been happy before; I’ve been content, no one has ever died on my lawn, but I’ve never had a sustained period where I’m just…happy.
So I stepped back to figure out what’s going on in my life that could possibly make me happy. My father is dying, I’m worried about money, finding a job (in three years), and failing law school. I’m stressed beyond belief and feel like my friends will think I’ve abandoned them because I don’t have time to talk to them (or blog to them). But somehow—still happy.
And then I realized: I’m living my life the way I want to. I’ve completely abandoned the desire to make my parents happy. I’ve allowed myself to do what I want to do. I’m in a relationship that supports me, I live with my best friend, I’m going to law school (which, entertainingly falls in both the “good” and “bad” categories when I quantify my life), and I’m in control.
In high school & college, I did what I did because I was supposed to. After college, I got a job that I didn’t like so that I could pay the bills and live with my boyfriend. Even though the last half of that sentence was what I wanted, it came at a high cost (plus my family went off the deep end about that). But now, I’m only doing what I want. And I never knew before this that I was unhappy.
I’ve been listening to this recently and it’s kept me going as law school ties me up in its basement, feeding me only bread and water, and negotiating a ransom exchange with my
family husband. I keep getting the feeling that the majority of my family would like me to settle down and start having children, rather than dicking around with this law school rigamarole. My parents seem entirely nonplussed by it and most of my sisters are just baffled by the fact that I might want it. So I feel like it’s an uphill battle, not just in the classroom, but on the couches of my family and in conversations with them.
Enter this song. I remember hearing this as a kid and identifying with the need to “get out” of something, of being trapped in an insular community (in this case, not a “town” but a religion, a family, and a path of life that included marriage and children and nothing else).
To spend my life here
Is more than I can do
I know somewhere down the road
My dreams will come true
And so they are.
If I stay here forever,
What will I have to show?
But if I make it over?
Well, then everyone will know!
It’s 2009 and I’ve been seeing more discussions of women and work than usual. Perhaps it’s just that I unplugged from my feminist news sites in the last few months of ’08. As a woman who will eventually go back to work, and if it’s at a law firm, certainly hopes that she’ll at least have a shot at partner, these are important issues to me. Two stand out.
The first, a discussion of how the recent economic slowdown has affected equality in the home (which is intertwined with equality in the workplace). Homemaking (including laundry, dishes, meals, &c.) is generally the rubric of the woman. That is, even if both spouses work, the woman in a heterosexual* relationship has a “second job” at home. Obviously, this is a sweeping statement and most of the men who hang out here might object to this generalization, but suffice it to say that MoF is more enlightened a community than the country at-large. In this article, the loss of the man’s employment results in a re-evaluation between spouses about the division of home labor. This can only be a good thing and may be a silver lining to the current state of the economy.
The second is on a slightly more entertaining topic: . This is a speculative correlation and may simply boil down to confident people get what they want because they (a) expect it and (b) ask for it. I’d be interested in hearing anecdotal evidence for or against this that any of you has (also, don’t forget to vote in her poll—it’s pretty far down the page, hidden on the left).
* it should be no surprise that homosexual relationships have a more equal division of home labor.
I had to log into WordPress a few days ago so I could comment. This impresses upon me exactly how long I’ve been radio-silent. A week before finals, we had a Let Us Tell You How Unprepared You Are for Finals Assembly in which we were told to apologize now to our friends and family since we wouldn’t see them for a month. Pshaw!, I thought, I’ve had big-ass tests before! But never quite this big nor quite this ass, I eventually learned. I haven’t done dishes in three weeks; I purposely took showers the evening before each test (since I had no time the morning of); I have run out of teacups (quite a feat, let me assure you). I had two major break downs: one before the first (and easiest) final and one before the last (and hardest) final. I feel good enough about how they went to mention that I’m in law school on our xmas cards, although I did go through a stage where I was so sure I would fail that I didn’t want to even tell anyone, lest I have to explain the following year what happened. What I feel best about, however, is that they’re over.
I have my life back and everything is beautiful. I went to brunch with my best friend, who remarked that we’d not seen each other since Hallowe’en; and the only time we talked was when she called because she had a cold and wanted my chicken soup recipe. While driving to what was essentially my first xmas shopping of the season a few days ago, I looked up at the hideous hills that surround my
fair city and thought how beautiful they looked! Truly, everything is better, now.
I’m sorry that I’ve been gone for so long, especially because it was apparently predictable by everyone but me. I’d feel marginally guilty about missing Music Monday (usually on Tuesday) or Fucking Friday (usually on Monday), and was only able to check in about once a week.
In an effort to be back in my (online) life, I’m trying to catch up on challenges past (they haunt me) at A Certain Slant of Light. I quit doing challenges long before I had the excuse of finals because I just didn’t feel that creative. But I do love photography (it’s in my blood and I cannot deny that) and I’m feeling the need for a creative outlet after three weeks of indulging my acreative side.
I also now have the time to muse on John’s desires for the direction of this blog. As much has he assures me that this is as much my blog as his, I still think of it as his space (one which I happily share). I know I’m in a better place, religiously, than I was when I first discovered MoF, but I don’t think I’m quite where he is yet. That said, this has been a place of profound healing for me; an amazing place where I’m accepted regardless of (rather than because of or in spite of) my religious proclivities, and that’s something I’m unaccustomed to.
Law school is not Apple. Apple was fun, filled with interesting people, and nearly completely devoid of intellectual exercise. Law school has its occasional spark of an interesting person and is fun for the intellectual effort that is necessary. I blogged a lot about Apple because I felt that the stories I had were worth sharing. I don’t feel that way about law school—which may be an indication that it’s not for me. At Apple, the word “blog” was said daily and I shared mine with a few coworkers (who I hope still lurk). I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to explain Twitter to professors and students alike and while most people know what a blog is, very few have one. Since law school doesn’t give me time to do a whole lot other than study, I don’t feel that I have as much fodder for blogging as usual. But I look forward to the outlet that it gives me—to the ability to put my thoughts in a (mildly) coherent order and get insight on them from close friends.
Thank you all for welcoming me here and for giving your insight.
I’m sorry I’ve not been posting recently, law school has finally caught up with me and consumed my life. I had to cancel the event that makes the holidays bearable for me (a goose-filled gamer fest) because I simply hadn’t the time to prepare and plan it. One of the prospective attendants told me that, while she wasn’t glad to miss it, she was glad that I couldn’t handle it because it made me seem more human. I’ll send her a card when I fail my first semester: “from xJane, now officially a Human.”
I have, however, been reading blogs mostly regularly (I didn’t yesterday, what has happened to me?!) and have compiled a bunch of links that I
wanted to share wanted to dedicate a whole post to each one. I haven’t the time to do so, so this is effectively a link-dump. I’m sorry, but Safari thanks you (“There are 7 windows open in Safari, with a total of 32 tabs.”).
Read more >>
I just had tea with the female faculty at my law school. It was fascinating to discuss their experiences of sexism and inequality in the workplace. It was also heartening to see that two men showed up as paying members of the Women’s Legal Association (apparently there’s a third who simply couldn’t make it for tea). The faculty advisor for the WLA is a woman of color, and her experiences were even more interesting (she apparently wrote down each sexist and racist remark and posted it on her wall—when the wall was full, she quit. That is a disheartening, painful story. I wish it wasn’t so easy to believe). One of the professors said, “My hope for you [young women] is that it’s easier than it was for us.” She went on to explain that sexism still exists, we will still experience and have to deal with it, but she hopes that their paving of our way made it slightly easier.
First of all, I would like to thank all the feminists (including the women-who-don’t-consider-themselves-feminists-but-still-are) who went before me, from the bottom of my heart, for myself and for my sisters (literal and figurative) and daughters.
Over at Feministing, the subject of “first wave”, “second wave”, “third wave”, and “post feminism” comes up often. There is a difference. My experience of sexism will not be (has not been) anything like the experiences of these amazing women. And sometimes I wonder if those differences keep us from being able to discuss our experiences (it certainly did not at the tea, I mean generally speaking).
Feministing highlights an interesting discussion of this as it pertains to Hillary and Palin. One that is worth a read and a brief mulling over.
I recently helped a customer who kept calling me “honey”. Drove me crazy. First time he said it, I said, “Please don’t call me honey. My name is xJane.” He didn’t blink & did it again. The second time I dropped the “please” and the second sentence. The third time, I said it rather loudly & annoyedly, causing some entertaining glances & stares. It seemed to kick him out of his paternalistic mindset for at least a few minutes (he didn’t do it again).
I just got lunch at the local taco stand, which I love, and got called “señorita” by the owner. I smiled & we caught up, since apparently I’m a regular now. It made me remember the “honey” episode, though, since the diminutive (surely I’m a señora by now under any definition, but I’m younger than him) didn’t bother me.
I’ve decided it’s all about the tone and familiarity. I’ve been called honey, sweetie, deah (dear, for those not from Maine), and many of the like in many different languages. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t. The difference is in how it seems like it’s meant. In the first instance, “honey” kept being followed by similar condescensions, implications that I didn’t know my job, and odd looks. In the second, a warm smile & greeting preceded the diminutive. In the first instance, I felt like I was being treated as something less than the speaker; like a child who had stumbled into an adult world. In the second, I felt I was being treated as familiar (literally, “like family”). Technically, I suppose, “honey” is an endearment and “señorita” is a diminutive (literally, “something smaller”); but it was in the first instance that I felt smaller and the last that I felt endeared.
I have found that diminutives are often used by men and women from other cultures. This was true in each of the cases above, both spoke English with a slight accent, but certainly well enough for us to communicate (enough for the first man, for example, to have understood that he was annoying me; enough for the second not to have slipped into Spanish). I’m not certain that this is because it’s “okay” in these other cultures to act familiarly or if they know they can get away with it because they’re from another country (how many British women have called me “love”?).
It’s a fine line, obviously, between familiarity and condescension. I think the key here is don’t be linguistically familiar if you’re not socially familiar. In the first case, I had not met this man who called me honey, nor have I seen him since. In the second, I see the (dare I say gentle-)man often, and had seen him often before this particular linguistic episode. I’m struggling to think of familiar terms I use. I call people “dude” an awful lot, a habit I’m trying to break; yet somehow I see this as less familiar than “honey”.
Anyone else find it ironic that “women” are still referred to as “minorities”?
I visited Pepperdine last Friday and many professors, deans, and students spoke to me and my potential future classmates. I mention the particular school because I don’t know if this is representative of other law schools. I have often thought of the time when, post-law school, I have the opportunity to apply to law firms and look at the number of women working there as related to the number of women who are partners. So while at Pepperdine, I purposely took note that the majority of the people in the audience were women but the majority of the people presenting were not.
This is not a scientific study but it is also not a “well, five of the ten people in my row were women and 4 of the ten people who presented were women”. Generally speaking, as I looked around, I saw about one woman for every man present in the audience. An associate dean was the MC for the first half, and she was a woman. Every other member of staff introduced, discussed, or present was a man. Until, of course, the career councillor and the housing coordinator appeared. I find this very telling.
Here are two articles worth your time about why women should not be accepted into graduate programs for Spanish Literature and Medicine. And why the reasoning behind that kind of statement is absolute bullshit.
(Apologies to Aretha Franklin)
I do not agree with many of Senator Clinton’s positions. I’ve never met her, so I shall reserve thoughts on her personality. But she has my respect. She is a woman in the most manish of manish professions, she has worked her way into the halls of male privilege, and I’d like to follow in her footsteps. She is both a lawyer and a politician. Props to her for that. She accepts the slings of media attention in stride (after all she’s been through, a vague-but-over-analyzed sniffle is proof of her ability to let most stuff just flow over her like water off a duck). And she does not tolerate having her daughter dragged through the same mud. (If you only visit one link, make it the first.)
I have not changed my opinion about whether I would vote for her, but my respect for her has definitely grown.
i feel like i’ve been hanging from an emotional bungee cord for the past few weeks: we are in the most idyllic living situation, but we will likely be kicked out in another month or so; i wrapped up an incredibly stressful week of work by basking in the glow of todd purgason of juxt interactive for free in a classroom with maybe thirty other developers and designers (for those of you who don’t know him, todd is one of the best flash designers in the business, and i’ve attended conferences in new york and seattle with hundreds of attendees where he was one of the keynote speakers); i’m one of a handful of students who is being invited to join the national history honor society (phi alpha theta), but am on the verge of failing one of my classes; and i am preparing to put my academic dreams on the shelf indefinitely so that i can support jana in her pursuit of a phd (two parents pursuing graduate degrees simultaneously does not a healthy home environment make).
the hardest thing for me to deal with in the past few weeks is that i have someone in my life who is critical and who works, perhaps unwittingly, to undermine my character in the eyes of others. i have the impression that they delight in my failure, and that nothing i can ever do will please them. this is my perspective of the situation, but i haven’t heard or seen anything to make me feel that this person assumes anything but the worst of me.
i’m not sure why i’m so dang sensitive to this negativity. perhaps it is because i have worked so hard to overcome the scars of the criticism and perfectionism that i experienced as a child. it is hard to encounter it full-force again in someone that i generally look up to. i think that this is also difficult for me because i am already hard on myself; my sense of self-worth needs some serious shoring up.
i feel betrayed and i am angry. jana, bless her heart, tells me that i am absolutely justified in my feelings.
i need to move on. i need to realize that this is all ultimately about the person being critical, and not about me at all.
i am extremely blessed in my friends, teachers, co-workers and especially in my wife and children. i am surrounded by people who see me both for who i am and who i can be and who shower me with love and support and assurance. i have discovered that i need this web of support to battle my own harsh self-criticism, my own negative perceptions of myself. in spite of this, i am optimistic that the perceptions of my loved ones will win in the end.
i’m spoiled. i know–partly because the statistics would say so and partly because of heart-to-heart conversations that i’ve had with some of you–that there are those of you out there whose self-esteem has sunk to lower depths than mine has–maybe yours has hit the dark, cold ocean floor. your greatest enemies may sleep just a few feet away at night, or they may sit in the cubicle or office next to yours. it’s hard, but turn a deaf ear to the shouts, the cacophany of scorn and derision of those who would bring you down low. let your feet catch up to your own internal rhythm, and listen carefully and continually for that faint, distant call that you know is right and true until it rings louder and louder in your ears and you become possessed by that spirit that strengthens and energizes you and drives you on towards the greatest heights::