Not surprisingly, some people had some things to say about those articles.
Also not surprisingly, I had things to say, too. About how it was, oh, just sorta-kinda-a-lil-bit mildly annoying to have the phrase “having it all” defined for me, a woman who is not planning on having kids, and perhaps not even getting married. Because, ya know, basically defining what my priorities should be in terms of social norms I don’t ascribe to and goals I don’t aspire to, kinda means I will never “have it all”. Legit.
Yeah, I know I kinda touched on this topic here, but I really want to write a more direct response. But… Wait, what? You say those articles came out how many months ago?? Whaddaya mean the internet already moved on?
And, you’re right, I’ve been kind of MIA. I haven’t been responding to comments like I usually do… I didn’t even post at all last week. You did notice… didn’t you?
Soooo… I’m a little behind. To say the very least.
The thing of it is this: If I could define “having it all” for myself? Here’s a brief overview of what “it all” means to me (in no particular order, really):
- My dissertation: Would get done. This year. I am in crunch time on analysis, and I have my work cut out for me in interpretation and writing that shit up.
- My friends: I’d continue to have the time for them, all of them, that I do now.
- My family: I’d be sorting out my shit with this. I’m in therapy, I’m working on it, but it doesn’t happen on its own, in a vacuum. Like everything else in life, it requires work. And work requires time. I’d have that time to do that work
- Canada: We’ve officially moved from No Expectations to Emotionally Involved. Neither of us likes labels, but we’re into seeing each other more than once a week, and doing more than just having a lot of sex. But we’d still be doing that too, obvi.
- Me: Would get more attention. More alone time. In addition to being on my yoga mat every morning at 6am, and commuting on my bike, I’d actually have nights, and maybe even a weekend day, to myself. Right now, I miss this.
- My greater responsibilities: I sit on the Graduate Student Senate, the Women’s Commission, Graduate Council, and the Commission for Inclusive Excellence. I’m actively engaged in all, as well as our grad student LGBTQ+ organization. I am involved because I like to be. Because I need to be. Because there are things beyond my personal work and my personal life that I care deeply about.
- The future: Collaborations I’ve spent years fostering would be flourishing, I’d be scheduling various visits to present my work, and I’d be actively setting myself up for postdoctoral research. And…
- I’d be able to blog.
Not just posting once a week, but engaged in blogging. See, I started Women Are From Mars simply because dating was weird, people were weird, and I was tired of pretending like women didn’t like sex. I wondered if anyone else felt that way, had similar experiences. So. One day, even though I was fully aware there were 10,000,000 (probably not an exaggeration) other blogs on dating, I thought what the hell, and I just started writing.
Of course people had similar experience. Le duh women like sex. But I would never, ever, have imagined the community I stumbled into, going on 2.5 years ago. I would never, ever have envisioned the support and the love I received. I would never, ever have dreamed how much I would grow, how much I would learn, how much I would think and discuss and consider and contemplate and argue.
To me, blogging has become so much more than writing a post on the regular. It’s become far more than acquiring comments or RTs. It’s the incredible content and the unbelievable people out there – not only writing, but reading and thinking and discussing and considering and contemplating and arguing.
I can’t just write a post once a week. That wouldn’t be enough – and not just because the internet moves fast, and literally leaves behind those that don’t engage social media. Blogging is reading, and commenting, and listening, and thinking, and learning. This is what blogging has become for me – it’s no longer about putting my shit out there and checking readership stats. This is why blogging is important to me.
On the one hand – I can’t imagine cutting myself off from all of that.
On the other… is time. That’s it. Time is finite. And other things don’t just ask to be more important, they are more important. They have to be.
I’m not sure what this means. I’m not sure what I am going to do about this yet… other than just… admit it.
But… If someone had actually asked me, this is what I would say is my “having it all.” And, even though my “it all” isn’t the same as those in the articles that came out earlier this year, I still echo the sentiment: I may want to have my own “it all”…
… I’m just not sure I can.
Last month’s Tree Hugger was all about how awesome local food is – or, rather, pretty pictures that demonstrated how awesome local food is. Now that you are all inspired to go local as much as possible this summer, I am sure the question you’re now asking yourself is:
How do I eat local, and enjoy this deliciousness, all year round? Summer doesn’t last forever! At least not around these parts…
What, you’re not asking yourself that? What, it’s still summer? You even checked the calendar. Well, unfortunately, I have news for you. Eating local all year round involves some planning – and that starts now.
The thing is, for most of us, summer eventually ends. It gets cold. The sun stops even bothering to show up for more than a few hours a day. As a result, plants die. All that local bounty? Ka-put. The good news? You can still enjoy summer all year round – it’s just that planning for the [long cold icy dark]months of winter has to start early.
Well. Really, it has start when the food you want to keep eating is still in season. Like Aesop’s ant, you need to put that food by while it is still yummy – or you lose your chance.
Now, I can see all of you rolling your eyes right now. Ohhh I hear you. Putting food by? What does that mean – canning? Doesn’t that take forever? Don’t I need special pots? Doesn’t it involve a lot of boiling water? It’s still summer and it’s still hot.
Fear not! I, too, am a lazy mofo who has no desire to spend entire afternoons boiling jars in August. Instead – I freeze.
Well, no, I don’t personally freeze, but I prepare for winter by freezing food in the summer. And while it does require some boiling (veggies often require blanching), it works out well for a lazy mofo like me. What do you do? Easy:
- Vegetables: Simply blanch (quick boil followed by ice bath to seal cuticle) and freeze. Don’t expect these to be awesome when you pull them out – but they’re great for making soups or casseroles when the snow’s falling. I have had broccoli come out nicely, and greens do alright too. Of course, some can be frozen raw: I put tomatoes on a cookie sheet til they’re frozen, then bag ’em. No cooking required. But they’re only good for sauces and soups when thawed.
- Fruit:I put up strawberries, peaches, and nectarines by just freezing. Peaches and nectarines I’ll split, skin, and remove the pit first. Other berries, your raspberries and blues, I’ll put in what’s called a sugar pack first before freezing. Now, you’re supposed to use acerbic acid to preserve things, but I rarely do. The only issue is peaches often turn colors after a day out of the freezer – but I don’t mind this. Fruit is then ready for baking, or mixing in yogurt… or frozen margaritas…
All you really need is a chart of how long to blanch specific veggies, or how much of a sugar pack to use for fruit. I found this amazing PDF guide online, that includes 40 pages of info on freezing things. Really, all you need is the blanching guide on page 10, and the fruit guide that starts on page 14. However, do keep in mind this tip from e-How: “Once thawed, the fruit is best suited for use in baked goods or as an add-in for yogurt or sauces. Vegetables tend to stand up better to freezing and can be cooked directly from the freezer, with no need to thaw them first.”
Voila! Fresh, local food – all year long. But remember, you have to be the ant, not the grasshopper. It’s time to start preparing, kids.
Two helpful resources:
AllRecipes.com ~ “How to freeze fruits and vegetables” The comments are also helpful for additional tips!
Food Freezing Guide
Great resource for more than just fruits and veggies!
As you may have noticed – or perhaps didn’t notice at all – I spent pretty much all of last week offline. I was in another state, as part of a science-y retreat/orientation thing-y (details are not important, mmkay?) and as one of the themes was increasing/supporting women in science, I was among a bunch of very very interesting and ridiculously smart women. While we spent most of our time talking about, you guessed it, Science and pretty much generally being Great Big Nerds, there was this one theme that came out. One that isn’t, especially given some recent articles, new.
How do women balance careers and motherhood?
Is it possible? Can it be done? Any advice? What are the hidden consequences? What are the not-so-hidden consequences?
These are legit questions, and Really Important Things for up-n-coming women to be talking about. Even me – sure I don’t want kids, but I think it’s important to understand what other women are dealing with, and to think about other perspectives. Or maybe just find something interesting to blog about. Etc.
So, yeah, these conversations were totes fine with me. Way to go, thinking ahead n’ all. But one thing bothered me, time and again.
What about the partners of these women?
None of these women discussed their future choices as if they were part of a partnership – but all discussed the importance of being married, or were already married (and all were straight-identified, so to a man). It was consistently framed as decisions a woman had to make on her own. As in, by herself. As in, alone. As in, not as part of a discussion with her partner (despite the fact, last I checked, he had something to do with those kids in the first place…).
All involved, but did not outwardly discuss, the underlying assumption that her husband would not have to make such choices, or even wondered about children versus career. He was not a part of this conversation, these decisions. His path was already clear. There was no “we” in the dialogue.
I’m not ok with this.
If the next generation of women are still thinking that they are the only ones making decisions between careers and parenting (and there are some goddamn fucking decisions that must be made, especially in the society we live in – but that’s a whole ‘nother post), if they are unable to see their male partners as part of this – how are we ever able to truly find equality? Both in terms of what women are able to do, and what men are included in? How are we able to move beyond women as mothers, and men as bread-winners?
Men must be part of this conversation. If we are to ever reach equality, if we are to ever leave the gender binary behind, we must be able to talk about parenting as if it is the job of parents not just of mothers. We must be able to start talking about choices that must be made by all partners involved in child-rearing, not just the one identified as “mom“.
And, ya know, I bet if we checked, it just might be something men are actually interested in too – if we only asked.
And I’m struck by something. I’m struck by how much I feel that these conversations are somewhat superfluous. Sure, they’re important – some more than others – but, when you get down to it… I feel like they miss the point. How much bearing do they really have on what should have happened?
What I mean is, if what should have happened, did happen – we would have been over this scandal a decade ago. We wouldn’t be discussing today whether the Paterno statue should stay at Beaver Stadium.
In my eyes, there is a very clear path on what should have happened, regardless of all other influences. Regardless of what it means to reputations or football players or school morale. Regardless of the consequences to anyone but this child, this child being so fundamentally violated.
You tell the truth, you tell it to someone who will do something. You do something. You put an end to the abuse and harm of others. Of children. You either do it, or you don’t. Tell me, really – what else is important?
But that got me thinking about responsibility. About our responsibility to other human beings in our actions, our language. Our choices.
Where do you draw the line on personal responsibility? On your responsibility to other people?
Is it up to you to tell someone, when you see another person doing wrong? Harming or molesting a child? Beating a wife? Raping a prisoner?
Do you step in, even if it means your own bodily harm? What about your reputation? What about the lives of people you love and respect? When do these things cease to matter?
Where is the line between responsibility to the victim you don’t know, and the perpetrator you admire?
Of course, the truth is that your decision, whatever it is, will have consequences. Period. Which ones are you more willing to deal with? And how might that influence the choice you make if faced with something in reality, over your thoughts on a situation theoretically?
Make it more difficult, more convoluted. What is your responsibility to the greater human community, even without a specific victim, without harm you can see and feel? Do you make that rape joke? Do you allow racist comments or sexist insults or street harassment? Is it your responsibility to say something? To not laugh or to not turn to that other cheek? To understand the harm that these words cause, instead of throwing up reasons or creative liberties or “can’t you take a joke”?
Once, a friend and I got into a discussion over the language that we used. This 6’2” man, who is gay and black – just so we all understand the easy-for-him-to-say part of this – believed that he had freedom of speech, and if he harmed someone with his words, it wasn’t his responsibility to avoid that. They should thicken their skin. If people are too sensitive, that isn’t his problem.
Despite the importance of free speech – is it our responsibility to, at the very least, comprehend how our language and our actions may harm someone? Do we have a responsibility to validate or at least acknowledge that harm, instead of providing reasons for why we’re allowed to say or do – or not say or not do?
As a blogger, do I have a responsibility to understand how what I write goes forth into the world? Do I have a responsibility to understand what it means, or the greater context around me?
This is an issue I have had with the Good Men Project. While they strive to be about specifically men’s stories, they often discuss gender, sex, women, politics, etc. Because the writers talk about life, and because the gender binary is a social construct and we’re all humans, talking about life is going to touch on things that affect other human beings that don’t identify as men. Period. Because the gender binary is a social construct and we’re all humans, I fundamentally believe that the stories at the GMP should touch on all these things – but. Does the GMP then have a responsibility to understand how their words are reflected and translated beyond the website and beyond the interviews? Does the GMP have a responsibility to understand the greater societal context? Does the GMP have a responsibility to educate at least themselves on the issue and language they use?
When I first posted at the GMP, I wrote about rape culture. I thought it was a very pro-man piece, but I was fairly quickly vilified in the comments. Did I have a responsibility to learn how the term “rape culture” would resonate with my audience, before I used it? Did I have a responsibility to educate myself on the issues raised by the comments, the feelings of my readers?
Where is the line for personal responsibility? What is our responsibility regarding the language we use, the actions we make? Where does that responsibility begin for the harm of someone else – at physical harm? At emotional harm? At verbal harm? And do we get to define what harm is for someone else? To tell them when they should or should not feel it?
Where does our ability to say and do whatever we feel like end, and our responsibility to others begin?
Now. Don’t mistake my point here. I don’t know the answers – except for myself. I’m not here to explain it to anyone else. I do, however, wish more people would ask themselves these questions before they say those words, before they act, or decide not to act, than after. That we would all spend more time thinking about our responsibilities to other human beings, to the greater human community.
Instead, we’re so much better about explaining and rationalizing after the fact.
“The things you say and do not mean
Follow you close behind…”
~ Ben Harper
A few weeks ago, I received the following text message:
“Will you ever talk to me again? Ever…”
It was from a number that is not programmed in my phone… but one I thought I recognized. Now, I know I should’ve let it go at that, and if I had any feelings left towards this person, I would not have responded. But… it’s been effing two years since she’s freakin’ contacted me, and I gotta be honest… this kitty was curious.
Finally, I asked who it was. That one response was all it took. After that… the following:
“It’s —-. From —-.”
[She attempts to call me. I don’t pick up.]
“Please just talk to me”
“I think about you everyday.”
“I hate that you hate me.”
“How are you?”
Without time for a single second response from me. And, yes, in that order. Seriously guys. It was followed by…
“I’m not trying to hurt you or be vindictive, I miss you, legit. You don’t have to respond, it’s fine. Just know that I think about you, I care about you and I respect you.”
No fucking joke, peeps. After all that, I did say something like “hey that’s nice but our chapter is closed.” Which, apparently, invited barrage of “you’re amazing/I miss you/are you in a relationship/you deserve the best/can I come down and see you?”
I don’t for a single second actually believe much of all of this. I don’t believe she meant one word. Instead I’d put money, a lot of money, on:
- Large quantities of alcohol.
- She’s going through a break-up and also through her phone book.
She’s drunk, lonely, and sad – the first thing happened too regularly when we were dating, and the last two she was never good at dealing with.
Now, here’s the thing. I bring all this up not to reminisce or discuss this particular ex. It’s not stewing up some long-buried emotions for me. But it does bother me – at a deeper level. A level where this ex is just an example of a larger, significant problem.
Words have weight, kids. Words actually mean something.
Ok, ok. I know I just posted on the importance of actions. I am the first to tell you words are cheap. But, you know what? They shouldn’t be. Words are not, actually, inexpensive – it’s just the way we use them that negates their value.
It’s this ex who says “I’m not trying to hurt you, but I still think about you every day” simply because she feels like shit right now. It’s the dude who tries to cover up his doubts and keep his partner from crying with “you’re amazing”. It’s the girlfriend who, the day before she breaks up with someone via e-mail, sends one with the subject line “I love you.”
And, to be frankity frank, it’s even the goddamn 23-year-olds I know who oh-em-gee-I-love-you vomit all over facebook, when they’ve only been dating three months.
And it’s not ok.
It’s not ok to use words to make yourself feel better, or get what you want, or cover something up, or play pretend. It’s not ok to use words with strength and meaning you cahlearly don’t understand. Nor care to.
I believe words like “care for”, “miss”, and “love” are all very, very serious words – yet, somehow, someway, they are also words we no longer take very seriously.
And, yeah, ok sure – I can see how this argument may appear to be born of cynicism and being jaded by relationships and human behavior – experienced first-hand and through the tears of others. I’ve been told things that were unwarranted, unmeant, unfelt. I’ve watched those things said, equally without real meaning, to others. And, yeah, as a result I’m cynical and jaded and overthink pretty much every-damn-thing.
I am also kinda terrified of those serious words – both being said to me, and saying them to someone else. I am kinda terrified of their weight.
But being jaded doesn’t mean irrational, thinking things through isn’t a waste of time. I won’t be told my fear is completely unwarranted. Honestly, I wish we were all a bit more afraid of the weight of serious words. Of what they mean to other people, of their literal and emotional translation once they leave your mouth. How much harm they can do, the potential they have for hurt.
However. That is not to say they cannot also cause great joy. But it is that joy, and that potential for hurt when that joy is discovered to be unfounded, that should matter to us, more than it does when we don’t fear or even pause to consider their power. When we choose to instead believe they can be used without caution, without contemplation, without concern.
Yes, I still believe actions speak louder, that talk can be acquired at bargain-basement prices… but perhaps it’s only because we’ve forgotten the weight of our words.
A special Tree-Hugger Tuesday pictorial edition!
Instead of dispensing sage advice in too many words this month (awwww shucks I know), I decided to simply spread my l-o-v-e for local food, it being July (fuck! already!) n’ all – the time of year when I am head-over-heels for farmer’s markets and PYOs!
Eating local does have significant benefits for your community and your world. Food is typically shipped far shorter distances, grown on a smaller scale and more environmentally conscious, often organic, and buying locally means you put money directly back into the community you live in. You can also reduce your waste by using your own bags, and it’s not processed (which has high energy costs) or heavily packaged (energy AND waste!).
Now. A word of caution: In my local neck o’ the woods, farmer’s markets have strict guidelines about who can sell, in terms of how far the food is moved, how large the farm is, etc. Not all farmer’s markets have such guidelines, and there are rumors of people buying from stores and selling at markets at a higher price. This, of course, is fairly easily avoided by talking to the organizers of your local market (they almost always have a table or booth) as well as to the farmer’s themselves. Find out where there farm is, how big it is, who runs it, etc. If they’re truly local, they’ll probably be happy to talk with you!
And that’s all I’m gonna say about the environmental and community impacts of buying local food this summer – instead I’m hoping to convince you because food is just better this way by showing you.
In the photographic evidence submitted here, exactly FIVE ingredients are not local: the almonds, Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and grapeseed oil I use to saute. Everything else I either picked myself, or is from farmers within 50 miles of my house, and people that I know. Yep, even the wine!
And all of it, without a doubt, will drop-kick whatever you buy at the grocery right out the window.
Keep in mind that a great alternative to the market is purchasing a share in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I don’t do this because it’s typically far more food than I can handle, and I just love going to the market and picking out my produce. Word of caution: definitely discuss the CSA in depth with the people providing it. CSAs were originally to connect people with their farms and food, and this isn’t necessarily happening any more.
How do you find local markets? Why, THE INTERWEBS! Really, if you live in the US, simply type in “find local farmer’s markets [my area]” and you should find something. Additional nation-wide databases are available at
Local Farmer’s Markets: http://www.localfarmmarkets.org/
The US Dept of Agriculture even has a directory: http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/
Another great resource for changing how you eat is the Slow Food Movement. Find a local chapter here.
Jesus’ face was black as night / the pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked / by the stars in the southern hemisphere
And he walked the length of his days / under African skies…
I received Paul Simon’s Graceland as a cassette tape (woah remember those) for my eleventh birthday. Now, I loved this freakin’ album but, being eleven, I was completely unaware of the controversy surrounding the album’s initial release (basically, in a really small and incomplete nutshell, Paul Simon went to South Africa, without asking permission from the African National Congress, and recorded the instrumentals for Graceland, thus violating the United Nation’s cultural boycott of South Africa that was in place to combat apartheid. In addition, he was accused of basically exploiting African musicians.)
This past week, I saw the documentary, Under African Skies, about the making of Graceland and that controversy.
Initial, gut reaction: Paul Simon went to South Africa and completely and blatantly ignored the African National Congress and the UN cultural boycott, both aimed at ending or at the very least forcing people to see apartheid, simply because he wanted to make music with these South African musicians. He chose to ignore what was going on in South Africa at that time to do this. As a white, very, very privileged man, he could choose to do so. Damn, Paul. But thought you’d know better for some reason.
However. Over the course of the movie, one thing became clear – at least to me: Paul Simon didn’t do this because he was selfish, because his privilege allowed him to ignore fucking apartheid. Paul Simon did this because he fundamentally believes art is not beholden to political boundaries, should rise above political turmoil. That people who make art are artists first and foremost, above all else. Therefore, for people who are artists, the importance of making music supersedes boycotts and the desires of political parties.
Reaction to that: What a lovely world Paul Simon lives in. Not that I disagree with him, but it’s a state of mind that is pretty much only available to him because he is a cisgendered and white and male and privileged and from a first-world country.
The artists he was making music with? No matter how much they wanted to be artists first, no matter how much Paul Simon saw them that way – they would and currently will always be black first. And not just in South Africa.
Missing that point? Is a pretty big fucking deal, Paul. Sorry dude.
Regardless of how much I want to be in Paul’s world, it’s the same as if I said “Yah, I don’t see race.”
There is so much footage in that documentary of the South African artists. The studio scenes of them dancing as they recorded the music that would become so iconic, these fucking awesome riffs. Their joy over this experience, the ways it changed their lives. Their words on what Graceland meant to them.
The impact their music had on the world. On. The. World.
On me, as an eleven year old white girl.
As one of the interviewees in the documentary states, there is so much negative about Africa that we see, here in our nifty lil privileged American homes. Africa is a starving, black child with flies in her mouth. At the time of Graceland, South Africa was apartheid. One thing Graceland did was show the world Africa is much, much more than that. There is joy and hope and dance and song.
So. Despite all that I know about race and privilege. Despite the fact that ol’ Paul could probably use a bit of instruction on race and privilege…. I had to wonder: Where is the line, then? Where is the line between ignoring the reality of hate, and ignoring the reality of hope? Must we also focus on what is wrong in order to see clearly, or is there need to also see clearly what is right? Is there a place to show people the good, so that they will care about changing the bad? But where is the line where we show too much, where we exploit, and where we start to pretend it’s really not that bad?
Could Paul have gone to South Africa at a different time? Would that have been better – or was it perfectly timed, regardless of if he meant that? Was his violation a small price to pay for a Graceland concert, attending by thousands of black and white South Africans, where they sang the banned national anthem on stage?
When do we start seeing men as artists first? But how do we keep from ignoring their realities, in the face of our own privilege?
Does everything we do to combat hate and injustice and bigotry in this world have to be politicized, have to have a strong message – or is there a place for art, for collaboration, for the coming together of people as people? Is there a place for this, for connecting to one another as human beings, in spite of the hate and the injustice and the bigotry? Is it important – or even as important – as the boycotts and the anger? Or it this all just easy for me to say, as a white, privileged, American woman?
I do highly recommended the documentary, especially if you’re familiar with the album. And if only for the awesomeness of the original recording footage.
This is the story of how we begin to remember / This is the powerful pulsing of love in the veins…