“I’m Under the Weather” and Other White Lies

lake george - georgia o'keeffe

When I was younger, but especially in college and through my mid twenties, I would routinely tell white lies at work and in social situations. Activities I just didn’t want to participate in, spending time with people when I just needed a quiet night in, and many invitations to parties or events where I anticipated feeling awkward and uncomfortable – all were subject to lame, unnecessary excuses to justify my absence.

It might go like this: I’d get an email asking me to something like a dinner party or a performance. I wouldn’t want to go for whatever reason. Rather than just say, “Thanks for the invitation, but I’m not a fan of opera” or “I won’t be able to make it, but can we do something another time instead?” I might blame busy-ness, poor health, or fabricate other plans entirely. I didn’t do it constantly, but I did do it regularly. The stakes for my lies were rarely high – I never missed important family functions, life events of friends, or significant work gatherings – which made the whole thing even more absurd. (read more…)

Definitely Not Mainstream
My Life as an Astrologer

mystic-package-1967

“I never thought you would become someone who’d sell spiders and charms.” That was my dad’s reaction when I said I was going to be an astrologer.

He’s not the only person I’ve had a negative reaction from. Years later my unflappable and always-confident therapist told me, “I wish you’d have come to me sooner. I could have saved you from astrology.” When I meet new people and they ask what I do, they sometimes seem surprised when I tell them. I don’t look like what they think an astrologer should look like. No wild tattoos. No eye makeup. My Cher look: missing. (read more…)

What Went Wrong with Feminism?

Image of a women's liberation protest by Warren K. Leffler

Image of a women’s liberation protest by Warren K. Leffler

 

I was at the heart of the second wave feminist uprising when I moved to Manhattan in 1969 at the age of 22. The help wanted ads in the newspaper were still divided into men’s jobs and women’s jobs (hard to imagine now), but women who had made the coffee and bore the babies for the rabble-rousing men of the Free Speech and Civil Rights movements were beginning to get restive.  What about our issues?

The male revolutionaries didn’t care about our issues, but they HAD taught us to organize, so we pressed for equality ourselves.  It was a heady time. Gloria Steinem was constantly in the news and Betty Friedan’s “The Second Sex” was being read widely.  We held consciousness-raising sessions in living rooms in Greenwich Village and eventually in larger spaces like churches and synagogues.  We marched for equal pay for equal work, for the right to safe and legal abortions, for equal opportunities to advance in business and the professions, and for the Equal Rights Amendment which would enshrine our status as the equals of men before the law in the Constitution.   (read more…)

Do Good Boundaries Make Good Co-workers?

Gees-Bend-Quilts-25

Recently at work I was asked to scan some documents by someone who: 1) is not my boss, 2), is not in my department, and 3) knows how to use the scanner. This person, we’ll call him Stuart, is older and senior to me in terms of experience, but we are both part of our company’s small management team.

Stuart’s inquiry about the scanning was weird and oblique. He explained that he was in a rush to finish something by the end of the day, and “was there someone” who could help him scan a few pages from his notebook to send to a colleague? I was flustered and unsure what he was really asking. We work in a small office without any administrative staff; everyone does their own filing, scanning, and copying. I said there was no one really to ask. He persisted. I asked if he knew how to use the scanner. Yes, he did. Finally, wanting to help out, but more than anything not knowing how to refuse, I offered to do it for him. I then seethed about it the rest of the afternoon. I was outraged that he had asked me to do something so unrelated to my job; I wanted Stuart to think of me as a peer and to treat my time as equally valuable to his. I was also upset at myself for having volunteered to do it in the first place. (read more…)

Living With Pain

kahlo

I’ve been in pain every day for three and a half years.

I injured myself in unspectacular fashion: by spending a week walking, running, and dancing around the South by Southwest festival while wearing terribly unsupportive shoes. By the end of the week my heel was hurting, but I didn’t pay it much attention until the pain got worse every day for a month. By the time I was diagnosed with chronic plantar fasciitis, I was in the worst pain of my life.

Plantar fasciitis is an injury to the band of connective tissue (fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot, continuing all the way up the back of the leg. It is often encountered by runners, and will usually heal in a few weeks when taken care of, but it can also be incredibly stubborn. Every step you take can damage it more, especially if your body is out of alignment or your muscles are tight. Chronic plantar fasciitis in my right foot has made it difficult to do so many of the things that lift my spirit and bring me joy, not to mention function as a normal human being in our society. It hurts to dance, aches when I hike, and is uncomfortable even just to stand for an extended period of time. I have battled endless frustration, bouts of depression, and the discomfort of feeling like I am not only missing out on some of the prime years of my life, but that I am letting others down by not being there in the ways I think I should be. (read more…)