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Posts from October 2013


A couple in their mid-fifties, he thin with gray hair and beard, she thin with the faux blonde of younger years, embraced outside the arrivals area at Dulles Airport. Their bodies leaned into each other, almost collapsing with longing and relief. As I drove by them, I said to my daughter who I had just picked up, “That will never happen to me.”

“That’s sad,” she said.

And it was.

At a certain point, after a protracted divorce, two failed romances, some dismal dates, and the degradation of the on-line dating search, I gave up. I could appreciate the beauty of love, and companionship, and passion, but I was coming to terms with the fact that those were in my past and that in the future I would be alone, like my mother. Only she was 79 and I was 52; and she had been widowed after 54 years of marriage, and I divorced after 21 years. But the expectation that we would both remain without love was the same. She seemed pleased with the company; I was disheartened, but, nonetheless, satisfied that I was confronting reality.

But it was a lie. I was living within the illusion that if I pretended to accept myself as happy happy happy alone in my now empty nest, I would be rewarded with lasting love, full of respect and passion. It’s damn hard to challenge myths when they are so lovely to behold in spite of the pain and disappointments of past relationships. Or is there still a belief, beyond skin deep, that there doesn’t have to be such a dramatic parting from the initial moments of endless possibility and the ending moments of failure and loss.


Not long ago, on a solitary Saturday night, I watched a romantic comedy on my laptop. The story was silly and irrelevant, but the absolute beauty of watching two young people falling in first love was compelling. And, the sensuousness of the first touch of hand on bare arm and then the delicate pull into a kiss and embrace was so poignant that I couldn’t help but cry, nostalgic for moments long lost and a reminder, too, that my time for such innocence has passed. I ached in my unending loneliness, watching the movie to its happy end, saddened in my wisdom that it does not always end that way.


It’s not that I am continually confronted by my aloneness or that it continually bothers me, for I have embraced my quiet weekends and the absolute lack of necessity to coordinate anything with anyone. Yet, this luxury at times feels more like a stillness than a celebration. And I miss being able to express my love, whether for a child or a lover. Perhaps the aloneness is not just for a passionate shiver, but is from that intrinsic part of me that needs to care for others. Or is it that I need to be absorbed into another person’s life for my life, the motions of one woman, is not enough to evoke my fullness—has never been enough.

When I became a teacher nine years ago, I didn’t think I could do it because I didn’t know enough of anything to teach, and I wouldn’t be able to remember so many names. Those issues, I quickly understood, are easy to deal with, but it was the capacity for compassion that I never realized I had and which seems to have come out (though, surely, some students don’t see it when they only think of me as strict). Was this confusion based on my being an introvert? Are we lead to believe that an introvert only lives within the self, when, in reality, it is that our interactions need to be meaningful and fundamental, rather than a shower of words and laughter at a party? Have I not been able to fully comprehend who I am because I have enabled a societal norm to derail an honest appraisal of self? Am I an introverted people-person who needs both the engagement and the silence? Do I need love, in all its forms, and feel the lack of all. And so the longed for quiet has its flipside lack of intense interweaving of life with life.

A friend who has been divorced for many years says that it takes time to grow into solitude. Now that I realize how integral those relationships are to who I am, and not that they were roles to play that broke up the continuum of self, I realize that there will be no honest comfort if I am not giving comfort. I am that women who needs to lean into and be leaned onto; I am that woman who needs to heed the hearts of others.

What to do? There are the facts of two daughters who moved away for college: one who stayed away even after graduation, and the other who has only just begun her freshman year, and there is, too, no arrival to anticipate at the end of the day with a mental and physical embrace. I will forever miss the everyday presence of loved ones which has been an integral part of my presence.

But if the ache will not be soothed by solitude, then it is up to me to create relationships, in some form, for solitary solace will not suffice. 

This Week in the War on Women (October 26)

This is cross-posted at DailyKos.



“Case Explores Rights of Fetus Versus Mother”

I get that the authorities really really really care about fetuses, because, God, but how come we women don’t get the God protection? You know, I’m fed up with trying to understand these bullies because there is nothing honorable about them and no bible thumping with prove otherwise (besides, my bible is a scroll). Honestly, Get Your Compassion Out Of Our Wombs!

“JACKSON, Wis. — Alicia Beltran cried with fear and disbelief when county sheriffs surrounded her home on July 18 and took her in handcuffs to a holding cell.

“She was 14 weeks pregnant and thought she had done the right thing when, at a prenatal checkup, she described a pill addiction the previous year and said she had ended it on her own — something later verified by a urine test. But now an apparently skeptical doctor and a social worker accused her of endangering her unborn child because she had refused to accept their order to start on an anti-addiction drug.

“Ms. Beltran, 28, was taken in shackles before a family court commissioner who, she says, brushed aside her pleas for a lawyer. To her astonishment, the court had already appointed a legal guardian for the fetus.” (highlighting mine)



San Diego, which brought us creepy Mayor Bob Filner, now offers Matthew Tucker, who fires the ladies who he doesn’t enjoy looking at because they’re too darn old.

“SAN DIEGO — A former employee of the North County Transit District has sued the public transportation agency, claiming its executive director, Matthew Tucker, illegally targeted employees -- specifically, older female employees -- for layoffs, then retaliated when his decisions were questioned.”

“Heidi Rockey, a former grants specialist who resigned from NCTD in July 2012, told inewsourceTucker made a habit of firing, laying off or demoting women over 40.”

And there you have it: “According to sources who were either the subject of the statements or witnessed the actions firsthand, Tucker frequently referred to older female employees as “grandma”; asked if they had enough energy to do their jobs; suggested they dye their hair to look younger; and repeatedly said younger women were “easier on the eyes” than their predecessors.”



“The war on voting is a war on women” in Texas and Beyond

“The assault on voting rights is a naked attempt to suppress the votes of minorities, students, the elderly, and the poor. But don’t be fooled. This War on Voting is an essential part of the War on Women.”

“What is not commonly known, however, is that women are among those most affected by voter ID laws. In one survey, 66% of women voters had an ID that reflected their current name, according to the Brennan Center. The other 34% of women would have to present both a birth certificate and proof of marriage, divorce, or name change in order to vote, a task that is particularly onerous for elderly women and costly for poor women who may have to pay to access these records.”

Lesson Learned? Don’t change your name when you get married. That will show them!

And get out and vote, always, because this is an endless war against our rights.

Same story covered on the Rachel Maddow Show.

“And yet, state Republicans approved a discriminatory voter-ID law anyway. As Ari Berman explained, the law is off to a rough start: ‘Based on Texas’s own data, 600,000 to 800,000 registered voters don’t have the government-issued ID needed to cast a ballot, with Hispanics 46 to 120 percent more likely than whites to lack an ID. But a much larger segment of the electorate, particularly women, will be impacted by the requirement that a voter’s ID be ‘substantially similar’ to their name on the voter registration rolls. According to a 2006 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, a third of all women have citizenship documents that do not match their current legal name.’”

Unbelievable. Texas has a law that forces a women to change her name on her official Texas state ID card, speaking about major control issues. So instead of having a middle name and a maiden name, on a Texas ID card, your maiden name becomes your middle name. How the heck did that get passed? But, because of this name change, many women won’t be able to vote because none of their other documents that they need to further prove who they are, have their name written that way—because it’s not their name. So, Texas gets to rename just about every married woman in the state—and screw them at the same time.



How the hell does this keep on happening? Why do boys deserve protection but not girls?


“You may have heard my story, thanks to Anonymous who trended #justice4daisy. I'm not done fighting yet.”

Wisdom from Daisy: “I not only survived, I didn't give up. I've been told that a special prosecutor is going to reopen the case now. This is a victory, not just for me, but for every girl.

“I just hope more men will take a lesson from my brothers.

“They look out for women. They don't prey on them.”

“One way to think about Daisy and Paige’s choice to come forward is that they are trusting in the transparency of good journalism and, yes, the Internet. Before their story ran in the Star, the girls were the targets of vicious victim-blaming in their town. Locally, their names had been shredded. Now that the lens for their story has widened beyond Maryville, they’re getting the support they didn’t before. Daisy wrote about how “#justice4Daisy has trended on the Internet, and pressure has come down hard on the authorities who thought they could hide what really happened.” She’s right: The county prosecutor has called in a special prosecutor to reopen the case.”

Information also here:



The conversational rage this week, at least at Slate, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, seems to be that young women should not drink to excess because this may lead to their being raped. Is this news? Do we not know this even as we know that no matter how drunk, no woman asks to be raped, AND THE BLAME IS ON THE RAPIST.

The New York Times, in its Room for Debate section, examined this question: “With studies finding an association between binge drinking and rape on college campuses, is there anything wrong with telling women not to get blind drunk?”

Some of the voices:

“But, until that change fully takes hold, women remain vulnerable to forms of sexual violence against which the criminal law does not adequately protect them. Since that is so, it is essential – in some spaces, at some times, for some audiences – to make sure that women are told how to protect themselves.” Anne M. Coughlin is the Lewis F. Powell Jr. professor of law at the University of Virginia.

“Calling for young women to become teetotalers as a solution to the problem of rape on college campuses is not only old advice, but also wrongheaded and dangerous.”
Mychal Denzel Smith
 is Knobler fellow at The Nation Institute.

Apparently this was the article that got it started: College Women: Stop Getting Drunk. It’s closely associated with sexual assault. And yet we’re reluctant to tell women to stop doing it.” by Emily Yoffe

“The young woman laments the whole campus landscape of alcohol-soaked hookup sex. ‘Women are encouraged to do it, which ignores all the risks for us,’ she says. ‘You get embarrassed and ashamed, so you try to make light of it. Then women get violated and degraded, and they accept it. Who does this culture benefit? Alcohol predators. It doesn’t liberate anybody.’”

And Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post, in Thursday’s column notes, “The message of Emily Yoffe’s Slate article about binge drinking and sexual assault on college campuses was as important as it was obvious: The best step that young women can take to protect themselves is to stop drinking to excess.”

“Young women everywhere — not to mention their mothers — ought to be thanking Yoffe. Instead, she’s being pilloried.”



154,000 Fewer Women Held Jobs in September; Female Participation in Labor Force Matches 24-Year Low

“In September, according to BLS, the labor force participation rate for women was 57.1 percent, down from 57.3 percent in August and 57.4 percent in July. The female labor force participation rate had also dropped to 57.1 percent this March.”



“Revlon--one of the biggest cosmetics manufacturers in the country--is running ads promoting their support for breast cancer awareness while selling products to women that actually contain cancer-causing chemicals!”

Sign the petition:

A Good Saturday

I'm back from being in writer's no-words mode.

It is Saturday night and I am home alone in my emptied nest. The window is open, letting in the slight chill of an early fall evening in Virginia, and the crickets are the second soundtrack to the show tunes station to which I am listening.

In the morning I had a breakfast with a friend who is having relationship troubles. Ursula and I have known each other since I moved here from Israel thirteen years ago. We have breakfasted through my divorce, her dating escapades, my dating escapades, her relationship’s beginning, my relationship’s beginning—and end, and the draining interweaving-of-selves part of her relationship that shows just how hard it is to have a successful relationship once you’ve been divorced, and/or have passed 40 and the naiveté that accompanies us in our younger days.

In the afternoon I canvassed for a Democratic candidate for State Senate and against the entire Republican ticket in Virginia. Most people were not home on this beautiful, summer-like Saturday. One woman, whose husband I was there to talk to, tried to tell me that invasive ultrasounds were good because it gives women a chance to really consider killing a baby. Once we got past that, we had a real conversation, in spite of her obvious listening to Fox and my reading of DailyKos. I also saw a couple I know; he said that he was probably going to use his furlough time to do some canvassing.

When I came home, I read a little, I napped, then I walked Poops, and had dinner. For a few hours I have been reading at the computer and trying to write.

Nothing about my day was similar to the hectic pace and child-centric days when my daughters were home, nor was it similar to when I was focused on providing comfort to a husband or a boyfriend, or not getting the comfort I needed. Nothing about my day was less than an expression of myself. It is bittersweet, this open time of not being needed, but there is, too, the sense of satisfaction that the need I now fulfill for my daughters is fully me—and not a role. It is bittersweet, though, to have no one to ask me when I will be home from meeting with Ursula, and then to greet me with a kiss when I return as if I am some long-travelling love. But it was lovely not to think about when I need to be home so that a child or a man won’t feel alone.

There is much to life that is not intertwined with demands; it is astounding to have reached this point and this realization. Living without demands imposed upon me has also meant that I impose fewer upon myself. It also means that the focus I used to have on how I wasn’t as good as everyone but me is loosening its grip, as is my need to do just to show/say/feel that I am doing. There have been weekdays spent working and then coming home and not being productive. There have been weekends when the only thing I have done is to walk Poops. I am resisting saying that I did nothing because I am letting myself, finally, discover that life is life: it really is the moments and not only the actions or experiences or products.

Apparently I needed to be alone to proceed according to my internal clock (except for waking up at five am on weekdays) to become content. Spending a day with a friend, and a cause, and a dog, and then eating leftovers in pajamas is a darn fulfilling way to spend a day.