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Posts from December 2013

Too Dizzy to Dance

The other day I had my first date in a very long time. The date proved that Einstein knows his stuff and that time, indeed, is relative: an hour is not the same in every Starbucks. It also proved that wood is not all that pliable; otherwise, I would have fallen back and out of my booth because I was pushing so hard against the back of the wooden booth, trying to get as far away as possible from the utterly kind, intelligent gentleman who tested my ability to force interest and a smile while knowing that everything he talked about could be of interest to me. So, basically, he proved to me that as much as I might want to like someone, give someone a chance, there’s no fiddling with the chemistry dials. He also enabled my older daughter to consider me shallow because that is what she called me when I used his pilling blue turtleneck as my iconic image of the date. She let it slide when she conceded that perhaps a hardcore academic is not the man for her mother.


A few weeks ago I battled my couch’s magnetic field and went out contra dancing, which is a kind of Irish square dancing that makes you very very very dizzy. This was after a friend said that she was going ballroom dancing in New York, and I just could not take another night home alone. The good thing about contra dancing is that you don’t stay with a dance partner: you have a partner and you have neighbors, and you just swing and swirl along, smiling as you go. And people ask you to dance, to dance, because that’s what we’re there for; although, some people saw me as a fatal woman.

The second man who asked me to dance was much older than I am, much shorter than I am, much rounder than I am, and more facially-haired than I am, but smile I did because that is what you do when you dance and I looked right at him because I was told to concentrate on a person’s nose or eyes so that I won’t get too dizzy. As I walked away after the dance, gasping for air and water, someone said to me in a hush that he is married. I was offended that I was judged for such non-discriminating taste, and, honestly, I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t just a dance for singles. It was also the first time since I was implicated in someone’s divorce that I was perceived as a vixen. Just goes to show there is nothing carefree.

Another man asked me to dance twice and we sat out two dances chatting. In Virginia, having New York Jewish stuff in common is not all that common, so it was a very nice chat. I am a mature woman, which, in my case, is synonymous with being naïve. Yes, I had a nice conversation with a man; yes, I told him that he could contact me; but I did that because I thought we could be friends, I had no desire to sign my dance card over to him. Call me delusional. He emailed me the next day (my email was on the list of people who had signed up for the dance and he was the organizer) to say that he is dating someone and wants to see how it goes with her. Now, besides the fact that I prefer to say no and not be said no to, I was in no way attracted to this man and his assumption, which makes sense, I admit, bothers me. Can’t I make new friends? This might reflect more on him and his attraction to me than on me, but still, I was left feeling disregarded.

It might be that since I have excluded myself from the dating scene, I have forgotten what it feels like to be thought of as anything other than a friend, teacher, mother, daughter. My contacts with people have been restricted to roles that I do well in (don’t ask my daughters or my mother, for that matter) and in which I find comfort.  Comfort zone indeed.

So when I go contra dancing again tonight at different venue, am I to smile or not?

Next evening

I went, I danced one, two, three dances, and I got too too too dizzy to ever contra again. Now I know for sure that I could never have been an astronaut if being twirled around a dance floor is more than my equilibrium can take.

There was no drama, except my fear of spiraling down in a faint onto the prized dance floor. Oh, a man much younger than me, much cuter than me, and more facially haired than me, did ask me to dance, and I said yes, smiling the whole way (dizziness be dam*ed). It is an odd feeling, being smiled at while dancing, because it really does mean nothing, it is one of the moves. But he was so attractive and friendly that I let my mind play its “Oh, he likes me” soundtrack for the moments of the dance. And I did see, briefly, the allure of being a cougar. (It is not about the man, but about how glorious it feels to feel young again because for those moments together you can keep to your no-mirror-nearby illusion that you are still young and vibrant, and the world holds more possibilities than disappointments.)


My two evenings and one afternoon of possibilities came to naught. Well, not exactly nothing because I feel that I am truly okay if I dance (this is metaphorical now) and okay if I don’t. I could be in someone’s arms as we sway from side to side barely dipping, or I could turn off the lights when I am home alone and dance to my sense of abandon. Or I could do both, at different times or not.

Maybe I also understand the attraction of a cougar. It’s not about a mommy figure or how beautiful mature women are; no, it is about a woman who is in control of herself, even when she's in a tizzy (literal and figurative), and knows that that’s pretty darn impressive—alluring even. 

This Week in the War on Women: December 28

This is cross-posted at DailyKos.

This morning, while taking my dog for a leisurely half-hour walk, I listened to Weekend Edition on NPR. In that half hour, the only female voice I heard was the show’s host, Linda Wertheimer. Apparently there are no female writers, movie reviewers, or chefs who can talk about books to read over the holidays, new favorite movies to watch, or foods to eat on New Year’s Day to combat the impact of having imbibed too much the previous night. Which brings me to what I perceive as one of the worst things about the War on Women: the insidious nature of women being invisible. If we are not heard, we cannot be listened to, and things will not be changed.

I teach in a high school, and in the almost ten years I have been teaching, there have always been two male assistant principals and two female assistant principals, so why, have the three principals only been male? We can lean in so far that the Leaning Tower of Pisa looks straight, but it is not just on us to break those barriers. The ole boys’ club is not just about country club membership, it’s about being more comfortable with those like you and assumptions that die hard. (Why are tough women still considered Bs?)

The existence of the War on Women impacts all of us, and its end depends on all of us. One of the things that stands out to me in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is that he states that the oppressed are oppressed as well, and that “they [white people] have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” This is about having a society that gives every one of us a chance, and not a society where we have to prove ourselves to the white men who hold all the keys.  



Invisible in the Boardroom

For Women, It's Not a Glass Ceiling but a Plugged Pipeline

“The direct, in-your-face gender discrimination of the past has faded, but bias hasn't vanished. It's just gone underground and is growing. Under a veneer of "progress," what we call the new soft war on women is gaining momentum, based on stubborn stereotypes about what women can't do.”

“It's just that the stereotypes we all have in our heads about what men and women can or can't do are incredibly deep-rooted.”

Invisible in Stories about Poverty

As Ruth Rosen notes in her article, “The Republican War on Women”: “So why have women disappeared from a fierce national debate over who deserves food assistance? I’m not actually sure. Perhaps it is because so many adult women, like men, now work in the labour force and are viewed as individuals who should take care of themselves. Perhaps it is because Republicans find women’s appetite, as opposed to that of children, an embarrassment, hinting of sexual desire. Perhaps it is because this is part of the Republican war on women’s reproductive freedom: a single mother with children is somehow guilty of bringing on her own poverty.”

“Republicans may view single mothers as sinful parasites who don’t deserve food assistance. But behind every hungry child, teenager and elderly person is a hungry mother who is exhausted from trying to keep her family together. Women who receive food assistance are neither invisible nor undeserving. They are working-class heroes who work hard -often at several minimal wage jobs - to keep their families nourished and together.” 

Invisible in the Movies—and doing something about it

“The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is the only research-based organization working behind-the scenes in the entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female portrayals for children’s entertainment.”

Invisible in Government—and doing something about it

Emily’s List “envisions a world where women are equally represented at all levels of government, and achieve the highest leadership positions with our legislative and executive bodies; the influence of women office holders leads to the adoption of a host of progressive public policies to ensure that women have equal opportunities at home, in the workplace, and in the public sphere; our community of millions of engaged women and men ensure that the voice of women is heard and their power is celebrated.”

Shout Out to Wendy Davis running for Governor in Texas



Wishing We Were Invisible, or Why do they only care about us when we’re pregnant?

Michigan ‘Rape Insurance’ Bill Punishes Women For Being Women

This boggles the mind.

“Last week, the Michigan legislature passed the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” which bans private insurance companies from covering abortion services in the state and will force women to purchase additional insurance if they want abortion care to be covered by their health insurance. The bill contains no exception for cases of rape or incest, and you cannot purchase the rider once you are pregnant. It must be purchased prior to a possible pregnancy.”

“These attacks on abortion rights, whether they are TRAP laws that disguise themselves as protecting women’s safety or misleading fetal pain laws that use junk science to chip away at Roe v. Wade, are at their core about punishing women simply for being women. Laws like this reveal the deep contempt for women and reproductive freedom that underwrites the anti-abortion movement. It isn’t about protecting life; it’s about punishing women.”

Is Religion Really Your Guiding Principal If You Only Care About Pregnant Ladies?

“The lawsuit is similar to one filed in Oklahoma City last year by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which calls itself a "biblically founded business." That lawsuit also challenges the mandate that employers provide coverage for the morning-after pill and similar drugs. In July, a federal judge granted a temporary exemption to the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain, a ruling the government has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Fetus vs. Womb

In Texas a fetus has more rights than a woman, oh, I mean, wombn.

“With pregnant wife unresponsive on life support, husband hopes to fulfill her wishes. Keeping a brain dead woman alive against the wishes of her husband and family because, in Texas, the rights of a fetus override all other rights.”

“Marlise was taken to the emergency room at JPS in the early morning of Nov. 26. Later in the day, the family was informed by doctors that they would provide any life-saving measures because she was pregnant. The family was told the hospital was taking that measure because of state law in Texas' Health and Safety Code. "Section 166.049 Pregnant Patients. A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient," the code reads.”

So We’re All Just People Living on the Same Planet

“A major problem is the lack of consistent work in the field, a point stressed to me in 2005 – during an earlier outbreak of brain-gender difference stories – by Professor Steve Jones, a geneticist at University College London, and author of Y: The Descent of Men. "Researching my book, I discovered there was no consensus at all about the science [of gender and brain structure]," he told me. "There were studies that said completely contradictory things about male and female brains. That means you can pick whatever study you like and build a thesis around it. The whole field is like that. It is very subjective. That doesn't mean there are no differences between the brains of the sexes, but we should take care not to exaggerate them."

“This study contains some important data but it has been badly overhyped and the authors must take some of the blame," says Professor Dorothy Bishop, of Oxford University. "They talk as if there is a typical male and a typical female brain – they even provide a diagram – but they ignore the fact that there is a great deal of variation within the sexes in terms of brain structure. You simply cannot say there is a male brain and a female brain.”

“In fact, Verma's results showed that the neuronal connectivity differences between the sexes increased with the age of her subjects. Such a finding is entirely consistent with the idea that cultural factors are driving changes in the brain's wiring. The longer we live, the more our intellectual biases are exaggerated and intensified by our culture, with cumulative effects on our neurons. In other words, the intellectual differences we observe between the sexes are not the result of different genetic birthrights but are a consequence of what we expect a boy or a girl to be.”

Body Image

Can we please stop pitting women against each other as if the world was black and white and that we’re not all walking Venn diagrams with lots and lots of overlapping.

It’s Hard to Stand Up When No One Is there to Help

Why Don't Women Report Their Attackers? “A new study finds that only seven percent of women worldwide report gender-based violence against them.”

While experts agree that, for those working in the field, this information is not surprising, the study’s value cannot be overlooked, for it demonstrates through high-quality research how vastly underreported this crime is. The numbers are compelling, and they lay bare not only how many victims continue to suffer in silence and obscurity, but also the inadequacy of many of the systems meant to protect women from such violence.

“You don’t go to the police until it is a life or death matter, really” she said. “When you think you are literally trying to save your life and the lives of your children.” That is often because formal sources like the police or medical providers can be unsupportive and insensitive to women who come to them for help, experts say. This may explain the extremely low reporting rates in India, lowest of all the countries compared, where less than one percent of women came forward to report violence to any formal source.

“We’ve done a good job now at bringing out the prevalence and incidence and a lot of the health and social and economic impacts that violence has had on women and communities and men,” she said. “But we are really kind of at the beginning of the research on understanding which interventions are most promising.”

Summing up the Year at The Progressive

In short, their top five stories: abortion x 3, rape insurance (surely that’s an oxymoron gone bad), and the one good news story that Obamacare covers birth control without a copay. (I had my annual gynecological exam a few weeks ago and there was no copay. WooHoo!)

May we all have a good new year, and may we all find a way to combat this relentless War on Women so that soon my 18-year-old daughter will be right when she tells me that I’m living in history when I tell her about the inequalities and travesties that women have to deal with just because they are women.




Good Daughter?

Am I a good daughter if I call my mother daily, but I don’t pay attention to what she says? And when I berate myself, saying that I must listen with love and intention, I still end up criticizing what she says or else I hang up right before I reach my critique-point. If she ends up developing some form of dementia, will I come to regret having wasted valuable conversational time being angry at her pettiness rather than appreciate her attention to detail (every single detail of every single thing said to her and every single thing done by her)?

Technically, I would say that I’m being a good daughter. But, technically, love is not technical, and there is a difference between being a good daughter and a good daughter. Am I supposed to be a board that reflects back to her or an absorbent sponge? Sure, every mother-daughter relationship is different, and, at least in my experience or sense of things, it is generally guided by the mother. Am I trying, now that I have two somewhat adult daughters, to re-determine the flow of our relationship? Can it be done? Am I being unfair to her by changing things midstream, and not to her advantage?

To me, I believe that I am pushing her to be a better friend and person. But I wonder if she didn’t need to be a kinder, less critical person when my father was here because he was the kind buffer, and maybe she didn’t let herself nitpick everyone because getting together with friends was not as central to her existence as it is now that she is widowed and living year-round in a Land of the Retired. Or, perhaps because she had him to soothe and balance her, she didn’t depend on friends in such a way because she could leave them and go back to unload/talk to my father. For whatever reason, now she has an extraordinary amount of time to get together with friends, and time to recount and nitpick to me, and it bothers me that she is this way.

The act of calling may be an act of love, but if I don’t follow it up with a meditator’s focus is it for naught? Am I the problem? Now that I don’t have anyone at home to focus on, to attend to or raise, am I transferring my mothering “skills” to my own mother? What a twisted world I live in. Do I need to step back in my relationship with her as I have had to do with my daughters, letting them be/become their own selves?

What am I proving by being a dutiful but obnoxious daughter? The old diet coke and pizza diet, not the wisest diet around.

Since quantity is not adding up to quality, it seems logical that I step back and not call so often. Be less of a dutiful daughter and try to be a good daughter. Of course, since I have started this daughtering method a week or so ago, she has started to call me twice a day. Could it be that she loves me even when I am obnoxious and criticize everything thing she does? Hmmm, maybe it really is a solid mother-daughter relationship. 

Nests in winter

Nests in winter

Students of Today

Since school began in September, two of my students have had to leave school to deal with their depression, and the parents of other students have emailed me about how stressed out their children are and if I could please be flexible with deadlines. Not long ago a student at my school died, and since the parents did not say what happened, my assumption is suicide. Most of these students are freshman, high school freshman, 14- and 15-year-olds.

You know, we can talk and talk and talk and talk about tests and scores and evaluations and how poorly our students do on math tests compared to Norwegian children, and we can talk about how creative our students are compared to Korean children, and we can talk about how our students only know one language compared to multi-lingual European children, but really, what does any of that matter if in the process of proving something about ourselves and our superiority or our power to destroy in order to rebuild or prove something about our vision of education or priorities, we let our children slip through our classrooms without the compassion needed for lasting learning and personal stability?

These education reformers who want everyone, even kindergarteners, to be accountable for their learning understand nothing about what matters to a child’s development. I assume that as people on their deathbed don’t mourn not having worked enough, neither do they talk about having passed annual state-wide English, math, science, and history tests. Don’t we carry with us on our path that sense of self and possibility that has built in us over the years, and woe to us if we are burdened with never having received the encouragement to reach in and rejoice in what we find. Maya Angelou said it perfectly; “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” How can we give to children that which they will forget? The paradox, of course, is that we haven’t given them anything when we have been entrusted with giving them an education, and instead give them the emptiness of our own ambitions.

In the county where I work, the guidance department is no longer called guidance, rather it is student services. What a difference. It is the difference between an acquaintance who recounts, and a friend who offers and asks for support. There is a coldness, this thrusting children away from hearts and toward to-do-lists. Which children are benefitting from this type of education? Could it be the children who are like the educrats, who prefer to trade baseball cards rather than build forts and castles?

While looking for a quote by Nelson Mandela to teach my students about who he was, I found this: “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” There is nothing more powerful than the selling of our students to for-profit corporations, whether upping the seat count in a charter school, or purchasing books from a corporation, or taking tests written by a corporation, or enrolling in online classes run by a corporation—all ultimately only benefit a pocketbook, proving so evidently the veracity of this quote.

Depression comes from many places and can’t be pinpointed to a single cause, and certainly not to a test, but students are children, they are not test-takers for someone’s enrichment, they are more fragile and precious than a bottom line, and we need to resist this encroachment into our classrooms and our children’s souls. We, the collective adult “we” that establishes the moral fiber of a country through its very act of being, must prove that we are worthy of emulation by not conceding the classroom. A few years ago I took a class with a teacher who said that she closes the door and gets to teaching. She was lauded for her bravery. What a shame. Shame shame shame that to do what is right is to do what is wrong. But, I guess, it has always been that way.

We owe it to every child who deals with his/her pain by hurting his/her self or others to care more than to lip sync concern.

The “children of today” cannot be undervalued because they use the tools that we gave to them, nor can they be undervalued because we perceive them as the reflection of what is wrong with society when our actions are the true reflection. As the adults in the room we need to stop replaying our endless tapes of our pithy selves and start listening to the small voices that are crying out in pain because, surely, they are the canaries in the coal mine that has become our society.

  December Geese

December Geese

Winter Planter

For the past year, a good friend has toyed with the idea of joining an online dating site. The last time that she visited me we went on and looked at other women’s profiles and men’s profiles, and then we composed her profile. Once she got home, though, she looked over the site again and decided that the men all looked old. She figured she’d go dancing instead.

This past week she contacted me about finally doing it. But when she found out that costs $40 a month, she decided against it. A little later she said she’d join a free site. The next day she forwarded to me an article about friends who wrote each other’s profiles and asked if I would do that with her. Why not, I thought in a moment of positivity, feeling protected by the fact that I’m doing this more as a friend than as a woman who feels sidelined from the life of the world by sitting at home alone.  

I must say, our profiles show that we are both women of wit, intelligence, and compassion. They are also, I hope, STOP signs to those 50-year-old men who have not learned that they need to wear their shirts in their profile pictures (even if they still have muscles), or who don’t understand that women don’t want to be revered for being the vessel of their longing, and certainly DEAD END signs to those men who, in the more than 30 years they should have been interacting with women as equals, still don’t get that we are not their mothers and that we don’t want to coddle their egos, we would much rather play snarky-comment ping pong.  

Regardless of what happens on the dating end, her describing me in my profile as being “good at friendship” made this exercise absolutely worthwhile. We know our friends and we know that we remain friends because we have things in common, and we have what to talk about, and we care about each other, but how often do we come out and say it? When I told a friend at work about what my other friend said in my profile, she commented that she’s glad that she doesn’t have to be on dating sites and, “Yes, you are good at friendship.” So I thank her, too. Which leads me to what this exercise has made so clear: the more mature we get, the more content we get, the more we realize that this is because of our friendships. They are not the side-car to our main-car: we are all riding in a van that somehow keeps expanding to add more seats.


All day I watch my students develop their friendships in between my lessons. There is nothing that most of these teens would rather do than talk (or text friends) or do the teen version of snarky-comment ping pong. And while their ability to go to “outside voices” talking within a nanosecond of my turning around to get a handout, I have come to understand that we all desperately need someone to hear us. Love. It can be grand, but it is not the staff of life. No, that is in the pleasure in presence that is captured in getting together for Sunday morning brunch or Shabbat dinner or in calls to California. Friendships are the yard, the garden, the field from which all else can develop be it love or creations or strength.

When I was their age, I overlooked how important friendships were; they were merely there as a backdrop until true love would come galloping in. So silly. So much wasted time misconstruing life.

But back to love. I don’t know if I want love. Or maybe what I don’t want is the version of love that I have lived through. I wonder if my fathoming the importance of friendships will enable me to create a more balanced love when/if it develops in my planter?

  Snow Dec 2013a

Snow Day: First Fire

Dec 9 2013

Sometimes things seem so complicated, only to discover that the complications were in the doing of the doing and not in the thing itself.

This morning I made a fire in a fireplace for the first time. It started off in a blaze of newspapers and sputtered into a bare smolder of still viable logs, but success is not in the cinders but in the lighting of the first match.

Growing up in an apartment in Queens, I always envied my friends in houses with their ability to go upstairs to their rooms and their fireplaces where they could throw in dried orange peels on a winter’s Sunday. And even when I had a home with three fireplaces (one in the bedroom that was never used—what a sign that was), it, like the grill, was my husband’s domain. Something prevented me from using the fireplace in the apartment I rented for four years when my younger daughter attended high school. It could have been the anxiety over starting a fire in someone else’s home or the concern about all the paperwork required to complete when I would move out, or it could be that a fireplace symbolizes home and until I felt at home in a space, I wasn’t able to light my fire. Now, on this snow day when school has been cancelled and the ice on the trees has created a crystalline world, albeit one that is now dripping, I lit my fire.

Smolder is still happening and I can hear the occasional faint crackle of wood. I have moved chairs aside for an unobstructed view. As I look up from my reading and writing, I look out one window where I watch as tree icicles drip a steady, icy rain, and from the other window I see my deck with rosemary and lavender frozen in time in planter boxes and the glazed statue of a woman leaning on her harp that I brought from my parent’s home and its place in the foyer, to be a muse on my deck, and in between, there is my fireplace. Views inside and out.

If there ever was a snow day that was spent wisely, this is it. Brownies have been baked (one more break in my gluten-free diet) and tomato sauce for a week’s worth of comforting meals has been prepared. I am ready if the snow comes again tonight and there is another snow day. (Fingers crossed.) But if not, there is today. Now it is time to stir the fire again, and read, and probably nap.

When I wake up I know that I need to grade papers, but the idea of grading the minds of my students seems antithetical to this day and its attention to peace and comforts. It makes me think that perhaps my time would be better spent thinking about an assignment that is compelling to them. Maybe I will have them think about what comfort means to them, but maybe I will have them research Nelson Mandela, who, from past experience, they haven’t the faintest clue who he was or even what apartheid was. Maybe I will have them think about who deserves to be comfortable and how hard it is, really, for us all to have comfortable lives. 

Dec 9 2013a

At the Gynecologist’s, Again

Today I was back on my back with my legs up in stirrups, and I didn’t even have to wait a year to get into that enchanting position.

Two weeks ago I had my annual gynecological exam and pap smear. And then, as is generally acceptable, I forgot about it. But at the beginning of last week, while I was at the Sears Auto Center waiting far longer than an hour-hour-and-a-half that I was told it would take to change my front tires before what was supposed to be the first winter storm of the year, I received a call from my gynecologist. When she asked me if I wanted the good news or the bad news first, I decided to be brazen and go from bad to good. I mean, no use going for hope just for it to be immediately dashed. She said that I might have a virus, but heck, the pap smear was fine, and then she invited me back for a follow-up test, as soon as possible.

For the next half hour, I was sort of thankful that I finally got a smart phone and researched all that I could about said virus while sitting in a very bare waiting alcove. When I got to the point where there was nothing else to read except about treating cervical cancer (worst-worst-worst-worst case scenario) or opting for the wait-and-see option, I decided that I really don’t like scare tactics, so I put the phone away and thought about my tires.


At least I got to leave work early today for my exam. A silver lining!

When the nurse was walking me to the special procedures room, she ran through the what-to-expects while she simultaneously ran a one-woman pity part for me. Thankfully (at least for a bad news first person), the doctor went for the breezing right along positive approach to talk about the highly unlikely results but it will be fine and we will just need to have more frequent pap smears probably worst case scenario, and did you have sex with someone who might have had sex with other people and it’s such a shame that so many people have the virus but don’t know it so they keep spreading it around. Okay, I get it: it was obvious that at some point I would be punished for having been lascivious. But that is the past, and I do mean past.


I have been going to this gynecologist since I moved to Virginia thirteen years ago. She is approximately my age and so, over the years, we have developed a wonderful doctor-patient relationship. She used to get the annual lowlights and, thankfully, now she gets the annual highlights. She even met monstrous ex-husband when she got to remove my left ovary. That, of course, is a story. When ex-husband was still husband, he told me that I couldn’t get my ovary removed by her because she didn’t have enough experience with the procedure. I can unequivocally state that I chose my gynecologist over my husband, and I have no regrets. I mean when I’m in a “whose husband was more controlling” contest, I think I can win a lot of points by claiming that my husband thought he had dibs on decisions about my ovaries.

And then there is her nurse who has worked for her for years, and she, too, is around my age and also has children around the ages of my daughters. She proclaimed that she will hunt me down if I don’t come back for my follow-up pap smear, which, as a woman with no family nearby, feels rather comforting.

So there I lay on my back with my pink shirt all buttoned up and a white paper covering my lady parts, which didn’t feel so lady-like what with different instruments been inserted and swapped about, when the nurse gave me a gentle hold-and-release on my left knee. That tap touched me in the deep place within that needs to be touched and acknowledged in such a basic “here I am and there you are” way for an emotional person. Then we all talked about a drunk driving accident a few days ago in which a college student was killed, and how we were all devastated just thinking about what that girl’s parents must be going through.

There are times when you feel cared for in a physical way, like when I ran into my second cousin the other day after not seeing him for almost a year and he gave me two all-encompassing hugs of happiness; and there are times when you feel cared for in an emotional way, like when I received a thoughtful Hanukkah gift last night from my daughters and my older daughter’s boyfriend. Odd to say it, but at that moment on the examination bed/table, I felt a bit of both. The tap on my knee and the confidence that the ultimate would be done to care for me no matter the result transcended my fault-finding and trepidations. Taken together, those three moments within four days have brought me to a joyous serenity which must translate, simply, into feeling loved. Yes, I am loved.

Now I need to hold onto that as I wait another week for the results.