Did it. Yes! Well done, me.
We booked a cottage in Michigan for a week in August to celebrate my 30th birthday. It’s close enough for my parents and sisters and in-laws to visit. It’s right near the beach. And it’s within walking distance of a coffee shop, a grocery store, and a “martini terrace,” so we’re all set. It looks like this:
On the Oscars:
1) For people who act kinda preachy and self-righteous about being progressive and inclusive and all that, Hollywood still looks pretty white and pretty male to me.
2) I found The Artist gimmicky and kind of boring, and I was cheering for The Descendants, but French people sure are charming when they give acceptance speeches, don’t you think?
I’m getting really frustrated with myself. I’m just not working as fast on these long-term grad school projects as I want to be. They’re hard, and they’re not due for, like, years, so easier or more pressing tasks like checking my email or meetings or talks seem to take up almost all of my time each day. I don’t want to “lose” my third year of school. I don’t want to be getting my PhD forever. I want to instill some good work habits in myself so I can continue to enjoy a “job” that allows me to be my own boss, to do work where and when I want. I also, honestly, want an exceptional career. I really do. And goofing around checking blogs and Facebook is not the way to get it.
So I’m instituting a new personal tough love policy. I have to work on either my course outline or some personal research project for 90 minutes before I’m allowed to check Tumblr. Every day.
I’m going to hate this. I know it’ll be good for me, but when I wake up tomorrow morning I’m going to freaking hate it.
This is a long, but it’s such a practical, concrete list of easy behavior changes.
- Challenge sexist jokes, such as dumb blonde jokes or jokes about rape.
- Avoid using words such as “bitch”, “hoe”, “slut.”
- Recognize when you “zone out” when women are speaking, when you value a man’s opinion more than a woman’s, or when you ask a man for information or advice rather than a woman.
- Recognize times when you “zone out” when a woman is speaking because you are sexualizing her.
- In group efforts, take on tasks such as photocopying, note taking, making phone calls, or providing childcare, which are usually given to women; encourage women to take on male-dominated tasks such as leading meetings, or acting as a spokesperson.
- Use gender-neutral language (ex. Firefighter, chairperson).
- Do not tell a woman how she should understand, express, or conceptualize experiences of discrimination and sexism.
- If a woman is offended by your actions or words, do not use tone arguments. If she does not accept your apology, recognize that she does not owe you anything.
- Check in regularly with your intimate partner(s) to make sure they feel comfortable, fulfilled and empowered by your intimacy.
- Do not make sexist jokes about how your partner (or any woman) drags you to go see chick flicks, forces you to go shopping, has you whipped, or is irritable because she is menstruating. Challenge others when they make these jokes. Avoid playing the role of the long-suffering man who has to hold a woman’s shopping bags and put up with her frivolities and vanity.
- Be polite, thoughtful, and considerate to women because they are individuals who deserve respect, not because you’re a “gentleman” or because of chauvinistic ideals.
- When a woman is completing a task, refrain from stepping in and telling her or showing her “the best way to do that.” Of course, if she asks for your advice or requires help, feel free to do so. But recognize that women are just as competent and capable as you.
- Apologize if you realize you may have offended someone, whether they mention it or not. Do not say: “If that offended you then I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Instead, frankly tell them: “I’m sorry I did that and I recognize it wasn’t okay. I’ll try harder next time.”
- Do not use expressions such as “grow a pair”, “be a man”, “man up”, or “stop being a bitch.”
- Reject forms of media and entertainment that promote sexism. Don’t excuse sexism and discrimination just because “it’s a really good movie.”
- Recognize that just because you are a feminist or work to challenge sexism does not mean you lose gender privilege.
- Do not be offended if you offer to help a woman and she rejects your help. Although you may genuinely have meant to be a good citizen by offering to help lift heavy objects or holding open a door, accept that the woman does not need your help, and that this does not make her a “bitch.”
- Recognize that while some women do hate men and do discriminate against men, that this sort of discrimination occurs in isolation, while sexism against women is backed by centuries of literature, scientific discourse, power/knowledge, philosophy, media representations, “common sense” discourse, etc.
- Realize that representations of women that you might find positive or fair might not be empowering to women. Notice that the vast majority of “positive” female characters or depictions in the media are highly sexualized to appeal to a male audience.
- Understand that much of what you’ve been taught to take for granted (that you are allowed to have an opinion and to voice it; that you can take up all the space you need; that you can become whoever you want; that you can pursue any career or dream you like) is often painfully untrue for women.
- When anyone tells you to stop, or says “no”, or does not actively give consent during any sort of physical contact or intimacy, immediately stop what you are doing. Do not sulk. Do not interrogate if the person is unwilling to explain. Do not complain or make them feel as though their choice to decide what sort of intimacy they want is not an empowered, safe choice.
- Do not make explanations such as “I didn’t mean anything by it”, “It was a joke, you’re just sensitive”, or “I’m not sexist, I have a lot of female friends.” If you have offended someone, listen carefully and learn from the experience.
- Do not police women’s bodies by deciding that “women shouldn’t plaster their faces with makeup”, or that “women should stop dressing like sluts to please men.”
Kevin is classy in kind of an effortless way. He doesn’t seem to be tempted, at all, to sleep in, eat junk, watch bad movies, anything like that.
So when he’s gone for a night I tend to do things like buy “A Thousand Years” from the Breaking Dawn Part 1 soundtrack and “Say” by John Mayer, microwave some tamales, download Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which I’ve never seen - psyched!), and stay up past my bedtime.
I’m getting married, a girlfriend announces in her sweet-like-syrup drawl.
Congratulations! I gush. When? Who’s the guy?
Wedding is Wednesday, she replies. We only just met…last week.
There’s a good reason why it’s happening so fast, she adds. And why I’m calling you out of the blue.
I expect her to say she’s expecting.
Instead, she exhales a string of sentences that slay me:
He comes with a terminal heart condition.
His second transplant is failing.
Needs a third.
May only survive a few years—or a few months.
I am stunned by her clear and present grasp of her future as caretaker, proxy, widow.
My question is this, she continues. If you’d known Alberto would die less than four years after he proposed, would you have still signed up for it?
My answer is unequivocal:
Alberto was the man I was waiting for. The one I hoped was out there. I’d marry him all over again—even knowing his death would devastate me.
If I could do it all over again, I would do those four years very differently.
I would’ve disappointed him less.
Surprised him more.
Chosen dinner with him over working late at the office.
Chosen dinner with him over too many drinks with girlfriends.
Chosen dinner with him over…everything.
I would’ve lived and loved him like he had an expiration date.
My voice breaks.
And instead of saying what my mind is thinking—you’re lucky, God, you’re so lucky—it says what she needs to hear:
Because you know what I didn’t, you won’t wish for the do-over.
You have the chance to make the right choices every day. There’s a purpose, a reason your lives intersected at this moment in time. Just take a macro-approach—tomorrow isn’t promised—to the micro-decisions, and you won’t have regrets.
But after, she whispers. What…then?
No short-cut through grief, baby, but the road with the least regret has far less detours. Plus, we’ll take turns driving. I’ll guide you toward the rest stops—and the milemarkers.
Love the people you love. And read this blog.