Friday, April 28, 2006

A Dwindling Group Of Unwilling But Morbidly Proud Survivors

I just got back from a Litigation Lunch at my firm, during which we listened to presentations on such fascinating topics as billing, time sheets, and the accomplishments of the associates Committee. Earlier, I mentioned the incredibly important work that our Associate Committee has worked on over the course of the last year. Today I learned that in addition to bringing us medium post-it notes, the Committee is also responsible for bringing us mechanical pencils, more cars to ride home in, and more loaner laptops. In sum, all the Committee has worked on is improving the perks of this job, without tackling any of the larger life issues such as work-home life balance, hours, the case assignment process, or training and experience.

Listening to them talk of mechanical pencils, I glanced disgustedly at my colleague sitting next to me and caught his eye. He, I, and Prue, and a few others, started on day #1 together on the Big Securities Case (the "Case From Hell") that defined my existence for the first year and a half at this job, and continues to plague my existence. He looked back and me, smiled, and rolled his eyes. What a joke. He told me during lunch that he had been placed on another gigantic case that is just about to start Discovery. The assigning partner called him up and said that she thought it would be a "good fit." Give me a break. After spending a year and a half doing discovery on the case from hell, he has now been thrown on to another one. That would be aggravating enough, but they add insult to injury by trying to shovel b.s. down his throat. And the Associates Committee worries about post-its and mechanical pencils. It's enough to make anyone gag.

But then a part of me thinks that maybe I'm being too pessimistic. What's happened to me? Have I really been so crushed and drained by this job that I no longer have within me the desire to try to make things better? The desire to do what I can to effect change from within? Isn't it a positive sign that the Firm finally started an Associates Committee, and that they're working on addressing some issues, even if they are rather small in comparison to the large problems that still need to be addressed? For example, I'm really pleased to have medium post-it notes. It was undeniable an improvement. A small one, but an improvement nonetheless. But then a voice says: Silly, silly little girl. This is a law firm. This is the way things are. What did you expect?

Last night during therapy, I was crying and telling CG that I had reached the point where I did not think that I could make my life the way I wanted it to be while staying at this job. I don't know if that's true (and I'm not sure if that's wrong - maybe I should be able to make everything OK while staying at this job?), and it was really difficult to admit. It felt like failure, like I couldn't hack it. It also felt freeing to admit that this firm and this job were not for me.

Even though I know it's time to leave, I have ambivalence. Part of me feels like I'm a failure for not having succeeded. "Succeeded" to me would have been coming to this firm and thriving in its embrace. I have most definitely not thrived. But maybe my definition of succeeding is too harsh? I have succeeded in the sense that (1) I have given everything I had to this job (for at least the first 13 months), (2) I have gotten a TON of practical experience doing everything from research, writing, drafting pleadings, client contact, and taking depos, (3) I have helped people, (4) I have learned an incredible amount about things that I didn't want to, and hope one day to forget, and about things that have enriched me, and (5) I have met a few great people (some of whom, like Prue, left me - boo hoo).

Most of the people I met here were on my Case From Hell with me. We were a big and isolated group and for the first 13 months of my employment here, I basically did not see anyone else from my firm. There quite simply was no time. We were in hell and we were all scrambling to come out to the other side. My colleague that I was sitting next to at lunch is one of those people. Since the case quieted down a bit, and since certain people were let go to do other assignments, I've seen a lot less of the Case From Hell people. Part of this is deliberate avoidance. At any moment, a call from one of them could mean being drawn back into hell. Though I have more time now, I have not seen more of the other people that work at the Firm. During the last few months, I have felt so done with this place. I've had no desire to connect with others and develop new relationships at a point where I hope to soon be on my way out.

I almost didn't go to the lunch, but I'm glad I did, because I found to my surprise that I enjoyed seeing my colleague, and even enjoyed being reminded of what an effed-up place I work at. My colleague asked me how Prue was doing and I said that she was enjoying Houston and being free of this place (I have yet to hear all the details from Prue, so I was doing a bit of projecting, truth be told). My colleague exhaled and shook his head, in a way that I knew he was thinking how lucky Prue was to be out of here. Many of the people who started with us have started to leave. The turnover in law firms is quite extreme, with almost 100 people leaving and coming in each year. Many people stay only 1 or 2 years. I'm on MONTH NINETEEN. Thinking about how long we have been here and still shaking his head, my colleague said to me, "We're survivors," and we both laughed at the melodrama and the truth underneath that statement.

I do feel as if I have survived something being here. There were so many days last year I wanted to quit, but I didn't. I stuck it out, and more than a little part of me is proud of me for that. I have made this situation work for me as much as was possible under the circumstances, and when I finally do walk away from here, I will be walking away a far less naive experienced individual. In addition to the work experience, I've worked for an individual who I know I will view for the rest of my professional career as the most horrible, nastiest excuse for a boss that I ever had the misfortune to work for. There's something positive, though, even in that. Because even though it wasn't pleasant, and even though my spirit has been brought low, I still did it. I took everything that they threw at me and I did a good job.

My colleague and I have been through something, that like all kinds of hellish hazing experiences, tie us together because of what we had to endure. The type of experiences that no one on the outside can truly understand (unless they try to listen very very hard). It made me happy to see him - someone who understands what the last 19 months have been like - and it felt good to laugh with someone about our common circumstances. It reminded me that there are some good people here.

At the same time, based on the work of the Associates Committee, which presumably is responding to the bulk of the Associates' requests and complaints, I'm left with the unshakable feeling that most people in my firm - the ones concerned simply with perks - do not view themselves as being in hell. They are not like my colleague or I. Maybe that's because they weren't on the horrendous case that we're on, or maybe it's because they actually like Law Firm Life. Or maybe they do dislike LFL as much as I do, but they are somehow able to protect their spirits from getting crushed better than I. I still haven't decided if I want to get to know any of them.

I never thought I would have a problem protecting my spirit. It turns out that I do. But that doesn't take away the fact that I have made it through this, and will continue to do so. It hasn't been pretty, and it has forced me to confront all of my weaknesses and all of my insecurities (especially during this last month when moving in with someone has compounded all of the stresses attendant with work). But in so doing, I continue to find my strengths.

I like remembering that I'm a kick ass grrl. No matter my current job, no matter my weaknesses, and no matter that I have no effing idea as to what the future may bring.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Coffee Covered Bum

Who else is tired of "LOST" not having a new episode each week? Watching Lost is one of the highlights of my week. I love it, and I love Wednesday nights. They are my leave early and chill out nights no matter what (if at all possible). Last night I did not leave work early so got back to my home around 8:20 pm, ordered some dinner, and curled up on the couch to catch the last bit of "America's Next Top Model" before Lost. I find America's Next Top Model endlessly entertaining. That and "Tiara Girls," which is another reality show I just discovered.

It turned out that last night's episode of Lost was just another compilation episode to get all the viewers who have not been watching it as religiously as I up to speed. It brought us all up to date to the point of Michael's miraculous return. It also reminded everyone of one of Sayid's ultimate bad-ass moments. Sayid not only found the fake Henry Gale's balloon and the grave in which Imposter Henry Gale said he had buried his diseased wife, Sayid dug it up. Upon digging up the grave, Sayid discovered the body of a man, not Henry Gale's wife, and the driver's license of the real Henry Gale, a black man. Who does that make the Henry Gale imprisoned in the Hatch by Locke, Jack, and the sexy Anna Lucia? An Other. Of course, we all knew that because of his yellowish tinted skin and bulging, beady, feral eyes.

For every one else waiting breathlessly for the next new episode, fear not. They announced last night on "scenes from" that the next 4 episodes will be ALL NEW EPISODES OF LOST. Sweet.
* * *
Also on my mind are two articles that I read in last month's Vanity Fair magazine on my way to Court this morning. The first was an article on Teri Hatcher and the sexual abuse she suffered at the age of 5 by her uncle. Ms. Hatcher came forward after learning that a young girl who had lived across the street from her uncle killed herself and left behind a note saying, "Ask Dick" (Ms. Hatcher's uncle's name). There were allegations of sexual abuse, but the prosecutors were on the point of dismissing the case for lack of proof. Without knowing this, Ms. Hatcher contacted the police in charge of the case, told them that she too had been a victim of her uncle's sexual abuse 30 years earlier and asked them if they had enough without her to make the charges against her uncle stick. The police told her they did not, and she came forward despite all the risks associated with exposing her secret.

I was struck that Ms. Hatcher indicated that it had never crossed her mind that her uncle might have been abusing other girls since he had stopped abusing her. Instead, she (understandably) tried to bury her pain and distance herself from what had happened to her. The young girl's suicide was a wake-up call for Ms. Hatcher that made her think for the first time that her uncle might have been abusing others the way he had her. She also saw that she had the opportunity, as an actress in the public spotlight, to reach other young people with her story. I think it's commendable that she came forward.

There's also a good article on Laura Bush, the main point of which is that Mrs. Dubya wasted her considerable opportunity to do almost anything positive while First Lady. The opinion of the article's author is that Mrs. Dubya's embrace of the anti-Hillary has helped her husband's administration's public relations campaign, but has accomplished little else. It is extremely perplexing to me how any woman could look at the First Ladies and pride themselves on being more like Laura than either Hillary or Eleanor. Wouldn't you rather do something, rather than just be known for looking nice, smiling, and squandering your brain while the country goes to hell in a handbasket?
* * *
While reading the articles, I had an unfortunate incident which involved the cup of coffee I had balanced precariously between my knees. The driver of my car, who had been going along smoothly for most of the drive, suddenly put on the breaks and caused my entire cup of coffee to spill out across my lap and onto the seat under my bum. Thank god I was wearing black. I do not think a giant coffee stain over my nether regions would have gone over well in court.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Dragon Strikes Again

Fairy found here.
Everything was going along so well today. I was Ms. Productive this morning and took care of a bunch of things that had been hanging over my head, including: (1) Going to get my Swedish passport at the Swedish Consulate, (2) Calling to get 10-98 forms from my student loan providers (one step closer to being able to do my taxes!), and (3) Calling my old bank in Michigan that had had the audacity to shut down my account and start charging me a $5 a month inactivity fee for the past few months, and convincing them to bring the account back up to $0 and call it even. I lost $30, they lost $10. They should be thanking me.

In addition to taking care of these life details, I also did some work-work, and was feeling like things were in pretty decent shape. I felt so good that I left my office, walked up to 52nd street to Bunchberries and got myself a healthy lunch, met Raj for coffee, and even stopped at Ann Taylor and did a bit of browsing. I got a cute shirt in turquoise (deep mer). The day is gorgeous, and it was so nice to be out in the sunshine.

Foolish me, thinking I could go out and enjoy the sunshine at 2:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon!

I came back to the office to find that all hell was breaking lose. First, there was an email and phone message requesting my assistance this evening on an assignment. Curses for leaving my blackberry at my desk! Second, I got a nasty phone call from one of my favorite people. Nasty, because she was pissed, but also nasty because that's her normal MO. It seems that some people thought that a certain expert had received certain documents several years ago (before my time), and that a notation of each of of those documents had been kept. Some people (i.e. the Dragon Lady) expected that I (for some crazy, insane reason) should (a) be aware of this and (b) know how to fix it. Someone was nearly apoplectic to find out that the situation - as often happens - is far more complex and ambiguous than she wants it to be.


So for the last few hours I've been scrambling, running around, trying to get brought up to speed on the state of these documents. The bottom line appears to be: No one knows what happened four years ago, no one knows exactly what we have and what we're missing, but now everyone is working as hard as they can to figure it out. Did I mention that I would rather get a cavity filled and have the dentist drill my teeth without novicaine (I'm so lying) than look at these documents? Actually, if the person I was dealing with was pleasant, it wouldn't be that big a deal. However, that's not the situation.

On Monday, while I was walking down the hall back to my office I thought for the first time that I might quit this job without having a new one lined up. It seems that I just can not move forward while stuck in this job. It so often zaps my energy, eats up all my time, or leaves me discouraged and frustrated. More often than not I lack the will and/or the time to do everything I want to be doing. That would be:

1) Yoga - regularly.
2) Taking Spanish lessons and/or speaking Swedish with people.
3) Looking for and finding an amazing job (Women's or Human Rights).
4) Eating healthy (cooking dinner, making lunches, NOT eating vending machine crap at my desk).
5) Reading - A LOT. Including the books I am supposed to read for my book club, which I have been unable to read for the last three months.
6) Not feeling stressed. Feeling happy, relaxed, content, and FREE.
7) Not feeling stuck and like the bulk of what I'm paid for is worthless and morally bankrupt.
8) Going to the gym regularly, on a regular schedule.
9) Not feeling STRESSED. (That deserves two mentions).
10) Enjoying life and having lots of cuddling time and sex.

The reason I have not yet left, in addition to the fact that I don't have a new job, is that it seems so foolish to walk away from my paycheck and health insurance. Regarding the pay check: I feel like I stupid wuss for even contemplating walking away, when sticking it out would give me a decent chunk of change. Regarding the health insurance: It's a real problem because without health insurance I can't see my therapist and I want to continue the work that I have been doing with her. I feel trapped in a box. A box of my own making, but a box nonetheless.

BUT, setting the health insurance issue aside, I could just quit. I could just QUIT. Boom. Just like that. It's something to ponder.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pie Tree Reunion

Last night, my friend Simone flew into the city and stayed with Raj and I. Simone and I met in 6th grade and were best friends all through middle school and most of high school. I grew up with this girl. For most of our friendship when we were younger, we were inseparable. She was close with my family, I was close with hers. She's part of almost all of my happiest memories from those years. We slept over each other's houses all the time, played pool together on the weekends, drank too much beer at parties down on dead-end streets in our New England town, talked for hours about the boys we liked, the boys we were with, s-e-x, and our dreams about the future.

Her mom would often make cottage cheese pancakes (unbelievably awesome), whenever I slept over. Her mom was from Argentina, and her father from here. They often drank wine with dinner and had a silver pitcher from which they served chilled water during meals. They had a lacy tablecloth on the dining room table, and everything was arranged just so. Their house was quieter than mine. There were less kids - only Simone and her sister - and it was nice to hide away from the chaos of my home every now and then at Simone's place. Her parents often had classical music on, and it was in her home that I first fell in love with the soundtrack from Evita (long before Madonna and Antonio became involved).

Her parents always treated me like their third child, and I was close with them, particularly with her mom. Towards the end of high school and during college, Simone and I started to grow apart. We grew apart for many reasons. We were growing and discovering more about ourselves and we were exploring new ideas and people. There were some sources of tension as well. Our senior year, Simone started becoming very close with a friend I had been close with before I met Simone. The two of them became fast friends, started dressing in dark clothing and wearing doc martens everywhere. I was a little jealous and I was also sad because I could feel us growing apart. I scrunched down the sadness, didn't say anything, and filled up senior year with my boyfriend at the time, the prom, and planning for college.

In college we reconnected, and found that we were traveling similar paths. I was becoming interested in women's studies, she was becoming more involved in environmentalism and being green. Neither one of us had much of a desire to maintain ties with anyone else from our high school class. Most of them had stayed in our town after highschool. Many of them had married each other. So many of them had no desire to leave, and Simone and I couldn't understand it. We had both been so excited to leave. So excited to start college, and our lives. To travel and learn and see as much of the world as possible. Maybe it's because we grew up traveling abroad as children. Her to her family in Argentina, me to my family in Sweden. For whatever reason, there was no way we were staying in our small Connecticut town for a second longer than we needed to.

After college, when I was living in Boston, I went to Colorado, where Simone was then living, to stay with her and travel around Colorado and Utah. For two weeks we drove her SUV around. We went to Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, the hot springs in Durango, and Arches in Utah. I had never been to that part of the U.S. and I thought it was all breathtakingly gorgeous. We camped in a small green tent, hiked, and only had one major fight, which was impressive, considering that we hadn't seen each other for a long time, were very different individuals, and did different things that annoyed each other. At one point, before we started traveling around, when we were not getting along, her mother called to say hello to both of us. I was so close with her family, more like a sister than a friend, that when Simone told her mom that we were fighting, her mom told her to put me on the phone.

Her mom and I then talked about what was going on, and her mom, to her credit, did not simply take Simone's side. There was no side-taking at all in fact. Instead, she listened to me just as she had listened to Simone and counseled me just as she had counseled Simone. She reminded me that Simone and I both had our strengths and our weaknesses, and that thought we had grown up and were different, we still had our friendship and everything that we had shared, and it was important to remember that. Her mom was awesome.

In 1999, Simone's mom became sick with a type of rare skin cancer. To this day, I still don't understand exactly what it was. For a while they thought it was psoriasis. Her skin became red and itchy, and she was uncomfortable for years. She tried natural remedies, and then turned to stronger drugs as she became sicker and sicker. During the summer before I left Boston for law school in Michigan, I spent many weekends with Simone in the hospital in Connecticut visiting with her mom. I would take the train down from Boston and hang out in the hospital with Simone and her mom, or spend the night with Simone in her family's house in town.

When Simone's mom died, I walked with Simone in the funeral and I cried with her as they buried her mom. Later, Simone and I planted flowers on top of her mother's grave. I still miss her mom. It's been about six years since Simone's mom died, and Simone has handled it as well as anyone could. She's worked through a lot of her grief, but it's still there. How could it not be? For the last 4 months, Simone traveled around in Argentina. It had been a trip that she decided to go on in part to reconnect with her mother's family in Argentina, and the country from where her mother was from. It was a way of reconnecting with her mom. She quit her job, packed her bag, left her apartment and her car, and took off for Argentina. Several months back when I first started receiving her mass emails tracking her trip, I had no idea what was going on, but now I understand.

Last night, we drank a bottle of wine and caught up on the last few years. We made it through one of five siblings, her Dad's impending remarriage (this weekend), her current romantic status, my romantic status and the fact that (gasp!) I'm now living with a boy, and some of our professional disappointments and aspirations. There was a lot of giggling, and it felt just like it did back when we were in Middle School sleeping over each other's houses. We still have so much to talk about. I am so genuinely happy that I finally saw her again, and that she seems to be doing so well. This weekend is her father's remarriage, and though I can't make it for the wedding, I'm thinking of going to Connecticut for the day on Saturday or Sunday. After all, her Dad still calls me his "third-daughter." How could I miss this opportunity to see her family again?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Victory Always Prevails

MySpace would be an awesome site if it had (in majority) respectable people, but reality is reality so MySpace holds all the crazies, perverts, girls who would do anything, guys who are well you guessed it..Guys. MYSPACE... It is a terrible site that pretty much sets someone up to fail in a relationship or create problems for themselves. Tex decided to create an account on MySpace. 1st, he doesn't know anything about computers and asked everyone else but me to help. 2nd, he refused to give me his password...Weird when I know all emails, bank accounts, etc. But not a MySpace. Bothered, I made an account for myself without him knowing...and low and behold after he said "oh I met my high school buddies, joe tom and mark"...I said well who the f*** is Natasha and Shannon?? He responded stating that they were high school friends, never touched them, never kissed them and never considered them as more than... Well, well. That just isn't good enough for ME! If they're only friends 1) Why lie about "re-uniting" with them online?? 2) Why do you both flirt clearly online (you thought I wasn't looking) 3) Take the BITCH off because I don't take shit and I don't like **** conversing with my husband. (this approach is bound to start a fight... glad I have the upper hand).

This all happened friday morning... Clearly, Tex wasn't prepared for what I had to say. He went into defense mode. I am just not sure what he DIDN'T hear because his only comeback was "they are my friends, you will not control me, and how do I explain to them why..." (HOLD UP! Bi*ch*s don't get explanations, your wife gets explanations and compliance till death do us part.) That didn't go well, so the word divorce spread throughout the house easily and bluntly. That got his attention. So for friday night...divorce was lingering in the atmosphere as well as silence. Tired of arguing and him upsetting me more with his rude comments; I didn't say a word... I would cock my head and flash a "smart-ass-grin" just to bother him and then walk away not responding to his "I love you" or this and that...So far things were going my way. Saturday came and still annoyed I left the house all day. Once I came home and tired of arguing still, I laid on the couch and put my legs on his lap. He began to try and flatter me with kisses on my leg, then my belly, then up my arm and on my face. I denied any contact with my lips. I replied to his kisses with "You know I love you, but you aren't going to have sweet me until you take that shit off the internet. Fix the problem. I am going out to play pool." I jumped up and got dressed to go out. He was absolutely flustered when I came out wearing a cute top, hair done, and wallet in hand.

He decided that he needed to go out with me. We didn't converse the whole drive to MY destination (45 minutes). We played a few games of pool and continuously he would try for my hand or for me. I threw him all the evil looks I could and said "all you have to do is ONE thing... Choose marriage or internet relationship??" Sounded very easy to me. Then more silent treatment came. We arrived home at 1:00 and I told him "what do you want the couch or the bed? Choose." He said he wanted the bed so I gathered my pillows and the comforter and laid on the couch. (He hates it when I don't sleep next to him, he is always worried that someone will break in and hurt I wasn't surprised when I awoke in the middle of the night to find him on the couch next to me and then I found him in bed in the morning hoping I didn't know he had slept next to me all night.).

So, so far, plan is well...He knew I was pissed because I didn't hold back, he knew that I would divorce him in a heart beat if he wouldn't comply. He knew his kisses wouldn't win me. He knew he had to make a decision and he knew he wanted me. So Sunday we were distant and finally victory was mine. After all the verbal comments, etc. It was seduction that won. He can't resist me and he knows he will loose me. He told me his account is shutting down. He decided to not have it at all which is fine with me. But fair is fair so I will shut mine down as well. I love victory and although this has been a disappointing weekend. I know we are stronger as a pair because we fixed the issue. I WON.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dinner Date

Bean and I just had a dinner date. How did that happen you ask? Through the magic of cell phones of course! I came home from work today hungry and stressed, feeling a little lightheaded and like I really needed to relax but not knowing how to do it. How do you relax when you're living with someone and fighting and you come home to find him watching a 3-hour hockey game?

The incessant sound of sports is just not conducive to relaxation. Have you ever tried to take a bubble bath with the sound of an arena and announcers screaming in the background? It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. It's like riding the subway and being blasted from every direction by a chaotic roar of sound. The opposite of the soothing, chimed filled space I need right now, and completely different from when the Swedes are playing.

I was hungry because I had been working on getting something out the whole day and didn't have a chance to grab something for lunch. So, by 8:15 pm when I returned home, the only thing I had put into my body was a toasted raisin bagel with one fried egg and a 1/2 slice of low fat swiss cheese, a cup of coffee, and a pack of trident gum. I was so hungry that I didn't want to eat. Thinking about food was making me feel mildly sick. Do you know the hunger I'm talking about?

Boyfriend was eating a piece of pizza that he had ordered for himself. Swell. Of course there's nothing in the fridge, and the only thing that would have taken a few minutes to make was Annie's Mac n Cheese. I thought about it but then had to get away from the roar and the apartment. I wandered for a while, not really sure where I was going to go, and then decided to have some Thai food. There's a cute place near 26th and 8th Ave. The lighting is nice and cozy with brown wood, orange/red table cloths and candles on each table. It sounds fancy, but it's really quite simple. I had my standard comfort food: Tofu pad thai and a Singh beer. Yum. Too good actually because I ate almost the entire plate.

After I ordered, I called Bean and she was there! Yippee. Here's how the conversation started:

Bean: Hey, How are you?
Buttercup: Shitty. How are you?
Bean: Shitty.
Buttercup: Awwwwh.
Bean: But I'm just pouring myself a red bull and vodka so I'm a
little better.
Buttercup: I'm just taking my first sip of beer, so I'm a little
better too!! (mutual giggles)
Seems Bean and I had similar weeks and similar issues. :( We ended up chatting about them all through my pad thai and beer, her red bull and vodka, me paying the check, me buying a bottle of Goats Do Roam red wine, and me returning to my abode. (Don't worry, I talked quietly so as not to annoy the other diners.)

She's in Utah and I'm here in NYC, but it really felt like we had a lovely dinner together. It would be nice if it didn't have to end with the click of the phone, but I'm glad we at least had the chance to catch up.

I miss you Beaner!!

Friday Morning Goddess: Ch'ang-O


The Story of the Goddess Ch'ang-O: Ch'ang-O, also know as Chang'e or Chang-Ngo, is the Chinese Moon Goddess, celebrated during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month. Sifting through the many legends about how she came to be the lady in the moon, a few details appear consistent from story to story.

Ch'ang-O, an immortal, was married to an immortal archer, Hou Yi, who shot down 9 of the 10 suns that had appeared in the sky in order to save the Earth from scorching and the oceans from drying up. The 10 suns were the 10 sons of the Jade Emperor, the Ruler of the Heavens. The Jade Emperor was furious when he realized that Hou Yi had killed 9 of his 10 sons, and as punishment he forced Ch'ang-O and Hou Yi to live mortal lives.

Hou Yi somehow procured the Pill of Immortality, or the Elixir of Life in pill form, and hid it in his home before leaving for a while. One day, Ch'ang-O saw a light emanating from the place in which Hou Yi had hidden the pill, and discovered it. As Hou Yi came home, Ch'ang-O popped the pill in her mouth. She became light as a feather and floated up to the Moon, where she lives to this day. She has a hare with her who pounds the remains of the pill in a pestle.

In another version of the myth, Ch'ang-O was the sole keeper of the Elixir of Life or Moon Blood (menstrual blood). Her husband, Hou Yi became extremely jealous and quarreled with her. She left her petulant husband and went to live in the moon forever, dispensing her precious Moon Blood to women only. Take that Husband.

* * *

The Chinese celebrate the Mid-August Festival with moon cakes, round pastry puffs filled with bean paste. These are referred to as delectable by some. In 2003, I traveled with Wood in China for two weeks after spending the summer working in Cambodia, and I had the opportunity to taste the bean filled moon cakes. I have only one thing to say: Bean paste is not delectable by any stretch of the imagination.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Back Sliding


This week sucked. After not having written for a few days, I wish I had it in me to start this post with something else. Anything else. I also wish that I sounded a tad older than fifteen. But so be it. It's the overriding emotion I'm having at the moment, so it's truth if nothing else. That, and that I'm pissed, but I won't go into that b/c someone doesn't want me sharing my personal life with the blogsphere. Fine.

I'm not even sure why I feel like the week was that bad, because while it was happening I wasn't feeling like it was horrendous. I had to represent an asylum client on Wednesday morning, and in preparation for that interview I had to write a brief. I was up until 3 am on Tuesday night, left the office in a car, crawled into bed at a little past 3, got up at 6 am when my phone, blackberry and alarm clock went off, and then was back in the office at 7 am Wednesday morning. The same guys I saw at 3 am when I left were still there when I came back in the morning.

The interview was disappointing. My client was clearly persecuted by Chinese authorities in Tibet. She provided credible, extremely detailed testimony, and we had prepared a binder full of documentary evidence. Unfortunately, we got a jackass of an interviewer. Why do people work as asylum officers? I just cannot figure it out. Every asylum officer I've had to deal with acts like a total asshole. If you really don't care about refugees, then why would you want a job where you have to listen to them pour their hearts out about everything that they have suffered? The only answer is that you don't like or don't believe refugees, or are anti-immigrant, so you take a job as an asylum officer where you can righteously play the gatekeeper.

The officer treated my client with condescending skepticism. I still haven't been able to put his manner into words. He made my skin crawl. He all but accused her of being a bad mother for sending her children to school in India. Hello? Freak. Hmmmm.... Let me think. If I was being persecuted by a superpower that had occupied my country, burned down all my monasteries, outlawed my religion, made it impossible for my children to learn their language or culture, and made a habit of detaining, imprisoning, beating, torturing, and publicly executing my friends and neighbors, what would I do? Oh, I know. I MIGHT SEND MY CHILDREN TO SAFETY. Asshole.

So the interview did not go as well as I would have hoped. We won't know what happens until a few weeks from now. We've already told her we will continue to fight, but it kills me that she has to wait longer. She's already suffered so much, and now because this guy wants to believe that all refugees are liars, she might have to stay in this limbo status for a little longer. She's alone, has no contact with her children, she hasn't heard from her husband since he fled Tibet, and now she is at the mercy of this jackass. It's completely unfair.

Speaking of Tibet, what is going to happen if the Chinese chose the next Dalai Lama? That is insane. Will the whole religion crumble? If that happens, I think the only way to save it would be for the Tibetans to take a page from China's practices and kidnap the Chinese chose Dalai Lama, brainwash him, and convince him to choose a real Panchen Lama (who will then be able to choose the real Dalai Lama). The only probable with that plan is that it's a complete manipulation of a system that is supposed to work divinely. Either way the Tibetans, and Tibetan Buddhism, is fucked. They are fucked if they let the Chinese Dalai Lama come to power (I'm assuming that Dalai Lama will support China in it's efforts to further crush and destroy the remaining pieces of Tibetan culture), and they are fucked if they kidnap the Chinese Dalai Lama and try to replace him. If they start to manipulate a system that is supposed to be divine, then they risk revealing that there is no system and there is no divinity. It's all an artifice.

I suppose another way they could go is for the present Dalai Lama to choose a different Panchen Lama. The problem with that plan is that it also fucks with the system. The Dalai Lama already chose the Panchen Lama. It's a conundrum. The Dalai Lama has to be planning something with his advisors. Or, maybe the Dalai Lama is not a doubter like myself? Perhaps I simply lack faith? Maybe the Dalai Lama still has faith in the Panchen Lama he chose, and maybe he believes that he, despite being kidnapped and brainwashed by the Chinese, will still somehow elect the real Dalai Lama. Maybe the Dalai Lama is not worried at all? That would make me believe.

But I digress. So the week was not horrendous because I worked on what I enjoy working on, asylum cases. I worked around the clock, I did not sleep, I was exhausted, and I did not have any fun time with Boyfriend, but I still got to do something of value. However, today, at 5 pm, when I was already stressed from work and had had a dull headache since about noon, I accidentally picked up the phone. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. My partner and I were going back and forth checking the web for some information related to our asylum case and she kept calling and I kept picking up the phone. So when the phone rang for the 5th time while I was immersed in reading something on my computer I picked up the phone without looking first to see who it was. Big mistake. Huge. (What movie is that from? Oh my god, I think it's from Pretty Woman. Is that true? Where did that come from?)

Do you know who it was? It was the fucking Dragon Lady. Known also as, The Bitch. Or, She Who Must Not Be Named. Or, Her. Or just, Fucking Bitch. You get the idea. Yes, the female partner that is the worst person I have ever worked for in my entire life. She is the reason I found myself saying the following to my therapist today: "She's a woman and she's a partner, so you know she's the biggest fucking bitch ever." Do you see the dark depths that this woman has pushed to?

Before I started this job it used to make me so angry when people would talk about women in power and make sly remarks about women being bitches as bosses. I even defended Dragon Lady before I realized her true nature. What a foolish, naive little girl I was a year and a half ago. Poor baby. One day over lunch with Prue, before I had had the pleasure of working directly with Dragon Lady, I said to Prue, "This happens all the time to woman who make it and are successful. They're called bitches, while men who are in the same position and act the same way are respected."

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Guess what I figured out? She does not act the same as the male partners. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there a ton of male partners who are total dicks to work for. However, most of the men I've had to work with are pretty decent. They give you feedback. They say things like thank you. They don't look at you like you are a bug who is doing every single thing wrong while you are standing in from of them trying so very hard to be a duck and just let all the negatively slide off your shoulders and down your back. I know that they benefit from the numbers. There are more men at the top of law firms so it's less likely that you'll work with a male that's a dick. There are less women at the top, so it's more likely that you'll work with a bitch.

However, the numbers do not change the fact this woman is the most miserable excuse for a human being I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. She is a monster. She makes my stomach knot just thinking about her, and the fact that she wants me to do 5,000 things in the next week or so that aren't going to make a damn bit of difference to anyone. Not the case, and not the world. God. Add that she's an unpleasant bitch to that, and it's almost unbearable.

I had been feeling pretty mellow about the job right up until the point where I looked down and saw her name on my phone. I had been thinking that things weren't so bad. I was doing good work that I enjoyed, and I had been thinking that I could stick it out for a while until I found a job I was really excited about. And one that would hire me. These things go in waves, and I was on the I'm not professionally satisfied, but things are not too bad, and I really shouldn't complain, and it would be stupid to give up this paycheck unless I was going to something really great wave.

However, the second I hung up the phone with her all I could think was: I HAVE TO QUIT RIGHT NOW. I JUST HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE. RIGHT NOW.

I love the asylum work, but that's work I'm doing despite my job, oddly enough. What I'm supposed to be doing at the firm is making a lot of partners richer. I just don't have the stomach for it.

The problem is that I've been looking and there do not appear to be any openings. I'm deeply discouraged and I feel like I'm in a holding pattern. I don't know where I'm going to be in 3 months, much less 10 years. I have a lot of ambivalence and I don't feel like I'm moving forward.

It's so ridiculous b/c I'm a fucking lawyer and I'm 30. I was supposed to have everything figured out by now. Instead I have this life that feels so often like at any moment I could just ditch it and run away to travel the world. If you have a life that you feel is ditchable, that's not much of a life now is it?

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Letter On Courtesy In The Blogsphere

Dear Amber,

It just came to my attention that you wrote this "Then you get grown women harboring the insecurities of their early teens like a cancerous tumor," about me as part of this post. That's hilarious. First, because you don't know me at all, yet that didn't stop you from tossing aspersions at my character. Second, because the posts that you refer to, both of which were humorous and frank attempts to confront an issue that many women (although apparently not you, as you have repeatedly proclaimed loudly and emphatically) find problematic in their own relationships, do not discuss anything of the sort.

To desire a male companion that refrains from behavior that I find disrespectful has nothing to do with insecurity. The issue has to do with respect. Respect for myself, respect for women in relationships in general, and respect for women who are objectified. I explained that in detail in two posts, here and here.

Instead of looking at what I actually wrote (none of which discusses any alleged insecurities I may or may not have experienced as a teenager), you apparently chose to ignore my words so that you could use my post as a twisted support for your rant about a sex-positive society. I hope that worked out well for you.

What you apparently fail to grasp is that part of creating a sex positive society is developing mutual respect between women and men (that means both parties in a relationship feel respected). Part of that entails refusing to tolerate displays of overt sexism and objectification by men (particularly ones in relationships) of women, as you yourself agreed when you wrote that you would "have a problem with [your] boyfriend "ogling" women, as [you would] have a problem with anyone ogling" anyone.

The line between ogling/objectification and sharing appreciation of female (or male) beauty is different for all women, and their level of comfort with certain behavior may vary depending upon the relationship they are in. That's a give-in. Each woman must decide where that line lies for herself. As long as women feel that their partners are respecting them the way they want to be respected, there's no problem. However, when women start to feel disrespected, then the situation becomes problematic - which is what I was speaking to in my posts. You and your boyfriend, and your happy non-problematic arrangement of mutually sharing your sexual attraction to other individuals was NOT the type of scenario I was speaking to precisely because you are happy in that scenario. Good for you Amber, but I wasn't talking about situations where women feel respected and content.

I was talking about situations where women feel disrespected, they feel like their partners are ogling other women, their partners are refusing to respect them by stopping that offensive behavior, and the women are sick of it. If women in that situation really were as insecure as you apparently feel that they must be, I would expect that the women would just lie down and take it. They would be so insecure that they couldn't bear to say anything for fear that they would lose their boyfriends. However, what I'm suggesting is that women should have the confidence to stand up for themselves and to refuse to tolerate behavior from their partners that makes them feel disrespected. This has to do, not with a sense of personal insecurity, but rather with a sense of personal worth and value. I know that I deserve to be respected, and I know that all women deserve to be respected.

If women are in relationships where they do not feel like they are being respected, they should have the courage to speak up about it. Even if that means that men, and women like yourself, will attempt to undermine the legitimacy of their experience and opinions, blame them instead of their partners, and falsely accuse them of personal weaknesses.

Another part of a sex positive society is having women support one another - not trashing women as "insecure" for standing up for themselves and other women. I mean come on, that's the standard infantile response given by men when women attempt to call them to account for disrespectful behavior. Instead of admitting to their sexist tendencies, they blame the woman. They aren't wrong. It's the woman's fault. She's insecure. She's too sensitive. Or she's a femi-Nazi bitch who hates men (granted you stopped short of suggesting the latter). By the way, I've seen both sides. I've had my boyfriend ogle women, and I've been ogled plenty by other men (no doubt the boyfriends of others). I don't appreciate either behavior.

Part of blogging is putting yourself out there, and with that comes the risk that people, like yourself, will take your words and twist them for their own purposes. I understand that risk, and that's why I'm not more bothered by your gross and presumptuous mischaracterization of my words.

However, what I do find aggravating is that when you commented on my site I respected you by welcoming you to my site, reading your words, and thoughtfully commenting back. I gave you the courtesy of trying to understand where you were coming from.

It's disappointing that you did not extend me the same courtesy.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Into The Sunshine

It's a beautiful day, but I'm tired and my head feels groggy. I wanted to stay in bed, surrounded by my fluffy down comforter and pillows, but that's just because I have a million things to do today, and I don't want to face any of them. I have to write a brief, go to Home Depot, and maybe go to Storage. The errands could be fun, but having to write a brief while the whole world is enjoying the sunshine outside just sucks. All I want to do is have a picnic outside and read a book. Damn stupid weekend work. I hate living to work.

As an aside, I made some progress yesterday in my months long quest to change. I applied for a job. It's with a non-profit engaged in women's rights litigation. It might be pretty awesome, although you never know. I had been putting off applying to other places, in part because of all the moving and relationship chaos that had been absorbing for the last couple months, but also because I'm a little afraid that once I got into what was supposed to be my ideal job, maybe I wouldn't like it. That thought, or fear, has been holding me back from applying. I've found some jobs, but none of them seemed perfect, and I didn't want to risk that I would get the job, take the job, and then find out that I didn't like it. What about if I liked it less than my current horrendous position? That would be terrible, if another job made the one I have now look good, and made me wish I had just stuck it out a little longer.

But yesterday, I suddenly realized what I was doing to myself. It dawned on me that ANYTHING would be better than my current position. I wake up with a stomach ache almost every day that I have to go to work. Once Sunday comes, I start feeling ill because the weekend is gone and Monday is coming. No matter what job I do next, it will have to be better than this one. But the thing is, I don't just want a job that's a little better than the one I currently have. I want a great job. I want a job that will inspire, challenge, and fulfill me. One in which I can learn a great deal, contribute to social change, and feel proud of the contribution I am making each day.

In addition, a small part of my hesitancy is the money. I would be happy making very little money if I was doing something I trully loved. However, I would not be happy to have a left this job, and the pot of money attached to it, for a job in which I feel like I still am not doing what I love or what I am supposed to be doing. And it's hard to tell what the position will be like from the outside.

Despite all the over-thinking, yesterday something resolved itself inside of me, and I decided that I needed to start applying. If I stay in this inertia, worrying about what the future will be like, I'm going to wake up a few years from now and still be in this same firm, in this dissatisfied state. That's not how I want to live my life. It's too short for that. Plus, we have expert discovery coming up at the end of May in my big-case-that-will-never-ever-go-away. I view expert discovery the same way I view being drawn and quartered over a bed of flaming coals while your finger nails and toe nails are pulled off with pliers - a fate worse than death. And it's coming. I've been dodging and avoiding to the best of my ability, but my time is running out. Even as soon as next week, I might get yanked back into that world. I can feel the anxiety building in my chest just thinking about it.

But getting back to lazing around in bed. Lying in bed is an escapist tactic bound to fail, because ultimately, if I stay in bed the only thing I will accomplish is making myself feel worse about all the things I need to do and still haven't. Raj tried charmingly and admirably to explain this to me before he left to go for a run outside along the Hudson River. He's very impressive like that. He's disciplined, sticks to his work out schedule, does what he wants pretty much all the time, and almost never gets depressed, down, or overwhelmed. We are so different like that.

Although the day is gorgeous, I couldn't quite bring myself to go running outside. I love being outside, and I love the sunshine, but I'm not a fan of enjoying it through running. I prefer to get my runs completed on treadmills in concrete, manageable doses. On a treadmill you can push yourself and run as hard and for as long as you want and know that you will still end up in the exact same place you started. It's motivating because you only have something to gain by pushing yourself to go harder. Whereas, when you run outside, who knows what could happen? I could start running, get exhausted, have to stop, and then be miserable because I've ended up too far from home. The whole idea of that happening is discouraging and makes me tired just thinking about it.

So now, I have some choices. I could indulge in my desire to procrastinate and push off the world and stay here, have some breakfast and watch some mindless TV, I could go running at the gym and make mysel feel proud, stronger, and better, or I could go do yoga at noon, which would also make me feel like I had accomplished something good for my body and mind. Watching TV, or even reading a book, is probably not the best action. It would be disappointing, and not healthy, and I'm trying to be more healthy. To eat better and to start working out regularly. It's just so damn hard sometimes. Especially when you feel exhausted.
* * *
Raj just came home. It seems I took up my gym time blogging. Oops. And now it's noon, and the sun is really shining, and now I definitely don't want to work (and I definitely don't want to go the gym - the day is wasting away!). At least not just yet. I'm thinking brunch, coffee, and laying out on a blanket down at Chelsea Piers with my book, "Knife of Dreams." I can spare a few hours for that, and I can go running tomorrow. Time to have a shower and wake up.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Morning Goddess: Eostre

Art found here.

The Goddess Eostre was an Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring. She was also called Ostara or Eastre, and her sacred month was Eastremonath, the Moon of Eostre. She gave her name to the Springtime sacrificial festival named Easter, which was originally celebrated on the vernal equinox, an old pagan festival appropriated by the Christian Church (one of the church's "movable feasts" that moves in accordance with the lunar calendar). The Saxons may have understood the Goddess Eostre and the Goddess Kali to be one and the same. Beowolf wrote of "Ganges' waters, whose flood waves ride down into an unknown sea near Eostre's far home."

Eostre is connected with rebirth, renewal, and fertility. The Easter Bunny has its origins in the Moonhare that was sacred to the Goddess Eostre, and the image that ancient people saw in the face of the moon, both in Eastern and Western cultures. During the Springtime festival, people presented one another with colored eggs, symbols of rebirth. In Eastern Europe, the eggs were often colored red, the life-color.

Traditional ways of celebrating the Goddess' festival include: (1) Making love in a freshly-plowed field or your newly-turned garden; (2) Ritually planting seeds (a special herb or flower symbolic of what you desire) in a Pot, blessing them, and setting them in a sunny windowsill; (3) Dyeing eggs, decorating with magic symbols and runes, and exchanging with friends and loved ones, leaving some in the forest for the spirits, plowing some into your field or garden for a good crop, and placing red eggs on the graves of departed loved ones as the symbol of rebirth.

This Easter, I think I'm going to celebrate by making love in a freshly made bed amidst clean sheets, dyeing eggs with the help of the Paas easter egg kit that I bought specifically for the occasion, eating chocolate, mini eggs, and peeps (I know that's not on the list, but so what!) and making lots of egg-salad sandwiches.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

In-Laws Make Me Crazy

I can't wait to move away from Park City... Now I know I won't be moving soon but everyday I will glance at costs of living in Texas as well as jobs etc. Right now Tex and I live in a town where his whole family lives. Need I say more??? Well, I do have more to say...I will start with someties inlaws are bearable but for the most part the whole time they talk my stress level rises and frankly I try not to listen to what they have to say because it is unintellegent, annoying, and underminding me.

So last night when they "inlaw fam-damn-ly" came over...let's just say I am ecstatic that my tongue wasn't bleeding within the first 5 minutes of them opening their mouths and speaking. I literally bit my tongue the whole time while in their presence. I am fortunate that Tex loves the way he does because majority of the evening he would glance over at me and proceed to cut them off in their communication. (He knows that I will only be respectful and hold back for so long). For starters, my inlaws are low class and by this I mean they don't know how to act appropriately and present themselves in a good manner, at least I don't think so. Secondly, they have received much education and therefore, they are not knowledgable on many issues...This is not being rude, it is truthful. Like I said above, they are bearable but for the most part...I can NOT wait to move away from the inlaws, the cold, and the past.

While biting my tongue, they proceeded to say that one of them has been diagnosed with a disease only transmitted by animals and they targeted my precious puppy and 2 cats. Right away I thought in my head "of course now you will make your problems and shit my responsibility". Then a rapid though raced through my head saying "then don't come over to MY house if you think you are sick from it!" They continued to assume and rudely say that this is why Tex is sick and blablablabla... After 2 beers, a red bull and vodka, and an hour of this shit my head was pounding. I felt as though I was being targeted by some monkeys who can only communicate in jibberish language. But at least the alcohol promote my imagination and humor so I could falsely put on a smile or laugh to myself instead of blowing up on their stupid incompetent non-sense.

Anyhow, I just had to let that out. The night ended up well...they went home, so Tex and I enjoyed some time to ourselves watching TV and relaxing. I guess there is no protocall to deal with annoying people especially when they are inlaws but to not be around them unless absolutely necessary. But what I know is that this living situation (living in the same state as them) will not work out. I can deal with it for a bit more but not very long. Fortunately Tex understands and feels the same way about his family. He just prays and hopes that they don't follow us to our hopefully soon and new location! (I am so glad through the past years I have been able to calm down and contain my temper because they would have been in for a ride last night with their accusations against my animals and other rude gestures and comments.) Thank goodness for each and every new day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sailing The South Seas

I had my second appointment with my psychiatrist, Dr. M., yesterday morning. I think I'm in love with his aura. The man radiates tranquility, security, peace, and comfort. Being in his presence is soothing and relaxing. It's lulling. He is an incredible listener, insightful and non-judgmental, and his level of attention is extraordinary. While I'm talking with him he seems like he has all the time in the world to listen to and try to understand and help me. He makes me want to understand myself.

During our appointment, I happened to mention in passing, while I was making a completely unrelated point, that my parents are divorced. He paused in his note taking and looked up at me and said, "Divorced? When did that happen?" I said, "Oh, I didn't mention that in our first meeting?" No, no I didn't. Apparently, it slipped my mind. It appears I'm still in denial about the fact that it's suddenly started to bother me after 18 years.

We started talking about the divorce, and I did pretty well for about two minutes. I had been feeling good prior to coming to his office, and I had had no intention of crying or getting emotional this morning. That's why it was completely unexpected when I felt my face crumple and my eyes well up with tears while trying to respond to his question, "What is your understanding of why your parents got divorced?"

You would think that I would be OVER IT. In fact, until relatively recently (around the time that I started therapy) I didn't think that I had anything to get over. Which of course is the crux of the problem.

At the age of 12, when it happened, I shook it off. I understood that my parents were getting divorced because they had failed at the communication game. My Dad loved my Mom with everything he had, but he demonstrated that love through actions that did not translate into a love that my Mom understood or needed. My Dad showed that he loved my Mom by spending hours outside landscaping the yard, gardening, and refinishing not one, but two basements. My Mom wanted attention, someone to make her feel special and beautiful and desirable. She did not experience my father's actions as expressions of love for her, and she was profoundly unhappy.

I was a confidant to both of them, particularly my mother. I was sad for them, but I understood that it was their deal. Not mine. I never asked them not to get divorced. It wasn't my place and it would have been futile. I tried to help them get through it, and afterwards, when my siblings and I were on our joint custody schedule, I tried to keep us all together. I was compassionate, but I was all business. I was trying to make things work and get things done.

At the time of the divorce, I remember my mother telling my father that she did not love my father anymore, and then a little while later, that she had never loved my father. I thought this was true for most of the last 18 years. Recently, at the suggestion of my therapist, CG, I asked my mother about it. She said, "Why are you bringing this up now?" My mother and I don't talk about these sorts of things. I explained that it was something I was struggling with in therapy. She told me that it was probably something that she had said in anger, and that she didn't remember saying it. Hmmm...

It seems that at the age of 30, I've suddenly realized that I'm not sure how one knows what love is. You see, I don't want to be my Dad, who was told one day by the person he loved that they no longer loved him after 13 years. And I also don't want to be my mother, who woke up after 13 years and told the person she was supposed to love that she no longer loved them. It's a quandary when you don't want to grow up to be either one of your parental models (at least not this aspect of the models).

My Mom had a good point though, and yesterday in therapy I asked Dr. M. the same question. Through tears and tissues, and pauses to get a steely grip on myself - during which Dr. M. filled the silences by telling me that crying was OK - I explained that I had always thought that I had not been affected by the divorce, and I told him that I couldn't believe that it appeared to be affecting me now. In fact, I thought it was ridiculous that I was feeling like this now.

I grew up hearing all these people blame single mothers and divorce for destroying America's children and I laughed righteously. I had not been ruined by my parent's divorce. Neither had my brothers nor sister. We were good kids. We were successful, and we loved each other and our parents. Fuck those ignorant people. They did not know anything.

For 18 years I never cried about my parent's divorce. I would get disgusted and contemptuous with my mother every time she said she felt guilty. Guilty for what? I would ask. We are fine. Everyone gets divorced. There are lots of worse things in the world. The important thing was that we had had two parents who loved us. Who cared if they were together or not? But now, one question from Dr. M. and suddenly I had more tears inside me than I could hold in.

In answer to my question, Dr. M. told me that divorce is always traumatic for a child. Always? He went on to say that children cope in many different ways. He said that it sounds to him like I coped by refusing to let myself be affected emotionally by my parent's divorce. I just pushed it away and told myself that I was completely unaffected, and I believed it. (I was a very stubborn, strong-willed, and opinionated child). I did what I needed to do to protect myself. And for 18 years this brilliant strategy worked, more or less.

But now it seems that my powers of protection have started to fizzle out. According to Dr. M., I appear to be experiencing and confronting at least some of the emotions that I so successfully pushed away at the age of 12. It makes me feel a little bit like I'm losing my marbles. It's nice that I protected that 12 year old child, because I let her become the woman that I am today. But it's disconcerting to be experiencing emotions at 30 that I feel like I should have dealt with a long time ago.

It's difficult because I am not as tough as my 12 year old self was. I've realized during the last year that I have needs and vulnerabilities. She never needed anything, and she was not vulnerable. She rarely cried, and when she did it was usually out of rage or frustration. She was never depressed. She didn't have the patience for it.

I miss being encased in her seamless armor.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pieces Of Meat

In my A Matter of Manners post, I explained my #1 Relationship Rule, that Males in Relationships Should Not Talk About Other Women. Several of you left me very thoughtful comments, and I wanted to take a moment to respond.

First, thank you to all of you for commenting on this issue. As women, we are all different, and it is no surprise to me that we have different perspectives and feelings with regard to this issue. The trick, I suppose, is finding partners that vibe with us on the subject. If one women truly has no problem with her partner ogling other women (although this is very difficult for me to believe), and they are in a happy fulfilling relationship, then more power to her. But if another woman does, then either her partner needs to change his ogling ways, or she needs to get a new partner.

Part of me would like to be like Amber, and be fine, for example, with having my boyfriend say J. Alba is "hot." I respect that Amber is cool with that, and I'm glad that she and her boyfriend have an approach that they are both OK with.

But, I'm different. I'm NOT OK with someone I'm dating making me feel like they are ogling or objectifying other women, and that's how I feel when my boyfriend tells me in a certain way and with a certain tone that so-and-so is "hot." Clearly, it makes a big difference how these things are said. I can not stress enough the importance of tone.

Second, I have given the issue of insecurity a lot of thought, and I do not believe that my feelings on this subject stem from a personal insecurity on my part. I happen to think I'm attractive and sexy. But, like most women, I do have some days that are better than others. Unlike the idealized and air brushed pictures of women with which I am inundated each day through magazines, TV, and the movies, I'm not perfect. (Of course neither are they in real life). I'm not perfect, so why would it bring me pleasure to be compared to an artificial image of near perfection?

Even if my feelings on this matter are based in part on some type of insecurity, so what? Should that give my boyfriend carte blanche to stomp on my feelings and make me feel like crap? Wouldn't that be even MORE of a reason for my partner to be sensitive to these issues, so that he didn't inadvertently tap into any such insecurities and make me feel badly? Shouldn't your partner want to make you feel GOOD? What's the point of being in a relationship if it's not one based on mutual love, affection, and making each other feel valued and special? Finally, if I tell my boyfriend that him talking about other women makes me feel less valued by him, shouldn't that be enough for him to stop that type of behavior?

Rather than being about insecurity, the issue for me comes down to R. E. S. P. E. C. T. Sing it Aretha. When my boyfriend objectifies or ogles other women, or makes me feel like that's what he's doing, I don't feel that he is respecting the other women, and I certainly don't feel that he is respecting me. And that's not cool with me. It's part of my feminist consciousness. I don't want to be dating an unaware sexist pig.

Just like he wants someone down with Brown, I want someone down with Feminism. Those parts of our identites are fundamental, and they need to be nurtured and respected.

It's also a matter of respect because I have conveyed my feelings on this subject to every male that I have ever dated. If you tell your partner that you find a certain type of behavior offensive and they continue to do that type of behavior (when this is not some type of behavior associated with their core, unchangeable self), that is NOT respecting your feelings or desires. It's also just plain annoying.

For example, my boyfriend is a meat eater and I'm a vegetarian (mainly). There was a time when I would - usually unconsciously - say such things as "yuck," while watching him prepare raw meat, and when I would make queasy faces watching him consume sausage, turkey, chicken, and bacon. However, he brought it to my attention and he told me that it really bothered him when I made those types of comments. It made him feel like I was criticizing him for eating something he enjoys and that I was being judgmental. Because of his feelings, I changed my ways. It was important to him, and a minor sacrifice on my part.

Maybe my boyfriend has insecurity about his meat eating ways? Perhaps. More likely, he doesn't want a girlfriend who refuses to respect him and the elements about him that he has no intention of changing (and the elements that he shouldn't have to change about himself). He's a meat eater and he likes it that way, and he wants me to accept him for who he is. Likewise, I'm a feminist and I like it that way. I have no intention of changing that about myself, and I want him to accept me for who I am as well.

Now you could say, hold on a second Buttercup. Wouldn't "accepting" your boyfriend mean accepting him for all that he is, including being a boy that talks about other women sometimes? And wouldn't your boyfriend "accepting" you mean accepting you making nauseated faces at him from across the dinner table while he's eating bloody hunks of meat?

Those are valid arguments, but to them I say that it comes down to COMPROMISE. I don't want to change my core self, and I don't want my boyfriend to change his core self. However, on the things that matter less to me, but a lot to him (like his love of meat), I'm willing to compromise and change my behavior to be more sensitive to his needs. Similarly, on the things that matter a lot to me (like not treating women like meat), I expect and hope that he is willing to compromise and change his behavior to be sensitive to my needs.

If I respect him enough not to talk about his meat, then he should respect me enough not to talk about women like they are meat.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Fugly "Pro-Life" Monument

This statue, an inaccurate, unflattering, and horrifically sexualized (a bear rug!?!?) depiction of Britney Spears giving birth to Sean Preston, is being heralded as a "Monument to Prolife." It's no surprise that the Anti-Choicers think it's the height of fabulosity for young girls to decide to get knocked up and to choose a life of early mommydom. I mean, if you have a vagina and a functioning uterus, what could be better?? Money, success, fame, a bright future, the ability to influence millions? Pah!

However, it is somewhat surprising to me that the Right is "honoring" Britney of all people. Have they forgotten that Britney used to be a sexually provocative and independent pop-tart who encouraged girls and women to turn males into boy toys? Have they forgotten the red leather jumpsuit? The sexified school girl outfit? Have they somehow missed the fact that Britney's husband is a worthless loser that milks her for money, parties instead of parenting, drives her to flee her homes and live in hotels, and can't keep his pants zipped long enough to stop creating zygotes for more than two seconds? Poor Britney.

Apparently, as a young woman all you have to do to get praised by the Right is to flush your life and future down the toilet, get yourself hitched to a dirtbag, and give birth to his child. Is this really the future that the Right wants for its little girls?

Today, while procrastinating (I've been doing my diaries - my billable hours - for February, March and April!) and catching up on some delicious Go Fug Yourself reading, I came across this post from Brit's perspective regarding the statue. It is hilarious and made me start giggling at my desk. I had to share it. (If you like it, make sure to read all of the posts done from Brit's perspective. They are highly entertaining.) Despite Britney's dramatic and destructive downward spiral, I am still fascinated by her, and I am rooting for her to escape K-Fed's toxic embrace. Hopefully, she'll divorce his sorry ass and take the kids and raise them as a single momma. I'd like to see the Right laud her as their pin-up girl then.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Goddess: Demeter

Last week, I was looking to feature a Goddess of the Hearth since moving and homelife was on my mind. However, on Thursday, I came across two things that pointed me towards the Goddess Demeter. First, for fun I randomly took this test, and found that Demeter is my "Goddess Sign." (Note that the "test" is heavily weighted towards the Hellenic Goddesses, so take it with a grain of salt). Second, I read that "Demeter represents that part of us that finds some joy in living even after the complete disruption of a happy home life. We all have to fight our way through old patterns and preconceived notions to confront the power of the nurturer in order to learn about holding on and letting go."

The words resonated with me. I was in the midst of my first week transitioning into living with Boyfriend, and for both of us the week had been less than ideal. I started writing about Demeter on Friday, and on Saturday, Boyfriend and I had a serious talk and made up. On Sunday, we had a wonderful day together. Coincidence? I don't know, but I'm not taking any chances. Thank you, Demeter.

The Story of the Goddess Demeter:

Demeter, the Greek Goddess of the Harvest, was a fierce mother goddess, who gave humankind the gift of the harvest. Demeter is credited with teaching humans how to grow, preserve, and prepare grain, and she was thought to be responsible for the fertility of the land. Cults devoted to the Goddess Demeter existed as early as the 13th century B.C., and Greek peasants continued to worship her through the Middle Ages.

In Greek mythology, Demeter was born the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. She was a sister of the Goddesses Hestia and Hera, and the Gods Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus. In Roman mythology, Demeter was called Ceres. Demeter's attributes include a sheaf of grain, a conical headdress, a torch, and a sacrificial bowl.

Demeter is best known for her fierce defense of her daughter, Persephone (also known as Kore), a child she conceived with her brother Zeus. Persephone was beautiful, joyous and filled with grace, and wherever she danced, flowers sprang up. Demeter loved Persephone so much that she could not bear to be without her. When Demeter sat on her golden throne in Olympus, Persephone was always on her lap. When Demeter went down to earth to look over her trees and fields, she always brought Persephone.

So lovely was Persephone that she caught the eye of her Uncle, Hades, the God of the Underworld. Hades fell in love with Persephone and decided to make her Queen of the Underworld. Because Hades know that Demeter would never agree to his plan, he decided to abduct her.

One day, while Persephone was picking flowers in a meadow, she strayed away from her nymphs and her mother. Suddenly, the ground split open and from the darkness of the earth came Hades on a chariot drawn by black horses. Hades snatched Persephone and dragged her into the Underworld, where he allegedly made her his Queen. It happened so quickly that no one knew what had happened to Persephone.

Demeter was distraught and filled with grief over the disappearance of her daughter. She ran about the earth searching for Persephone, and all of nature grieved for her loss. Flowers wilted, fields grew barren, trees lost their leaves, and people and animals went hungry. The Gods begged Demeter to bless the earth, but she refused to let anything grow until she found Persephone.

Finally, Demeter learned that Hades had kidnapped her daughter. Enraged, Demeter told Zeus that she would never again make the earth green unless Zeus commanded Hades to return Persephone. So as not to let the world perish, Zeus sent Hermes to the Underworld where he told Hades that he must let Persephone go.

Hearing the news, Persephone was overwhelmed with joy. She leapt to her feet with excitement, but Hades only smiled. Hades had tricked Perspephone into eating a few seeds of a pomegranate, and he knew that because she had tasted the fruit of the dead, Persephone must return to him.

Instead of forcing Persephone to be bound to the Underworld for eternity, for fear of Demeter's wrath, Zeus commanded that Persephone must spend one month each year with Hades for each pomegranate seed that she had eaten.

Every year, when Persephone left Demeter for the Underworld, Demeter was wracked with sorrow, nothing grew, and there was winter on earth. But as soon as Demeter heard the footsteps of her daughter returning to earth, she blessed the earth and it burst into bloom. Spring had come. As long as Demeter and Persephone were together, the earth was warm and fruitful.

Friday, April 07, 2006

My Delightful Adventure With Emergency Contraception

This week's "Friday Morning Goddess" was delayed because I spent most of today curled into a little ball on my bed feeling nauseous and pretty much paralyzed with a splitting headache. I was afraid that putting anything in my mouth would make me vomit, so I suffered aspirin-less with the headache for most of the day. I lay there trying not to move, looking around at the box covered mess that is my new home, praying that it would pass.

The reason, dear readers, that I was so ill today that I had to skip work and my follow up appointment with Dr. M, and will have to spend my weekend not enjoying life, not wandering around New York, not having a tasty brunch, not shopping at Bloomingdales, not seeing a movie, maybe not even being able to go to my Sunday book club, and instead will have to spend most of it AT WORK or DOING MY TAXES, is because last night I had to take emergency contraception (EC). It was horrible.

As you know, a week ago, I started officially living in sin with Boyfriend. A few nights ago, while taking advantage of our sinful living situation, we had an unfortunate incident. Damn stupid Trojans that don't even feel good and have a nasty habit of ripping into pieces. The night it happened was two days after I finished my period, so I knew that the chances of me getting pregnant were extremely slim. The prime time, from what I gather, is roughly 10 days after the end of your period. However, Boyfriend was nervous, and I too don't like the idea of playing with fire. At the moment, we can barely manage living together. A baby at this time would not be ideal.

Though I do not desire to have a baby at the moment, I was very hesitant to take the EC. In addition to the slim chances of pregnancy, I had had one other experience with EC and it made me very ill. This happened with Boyfriend about 2 years ago. (Apparently we are jinxed.) When it happened then, I remember cuddling together on the bed and talking about it, and feeling supported in taking the EC. We had both created the problem, so we were both going to solve it. Me, by taking an enormous dose of hormones that was going to totally fuck up my system and make me sick, and him, by taking care of me.

That's the deal when you have sex and the condom breaks and your girlfriend is not on the pill. She takes EC, and you take care of her. Or you have a baby. Or you don't have sex again. Ever.

During the last two days, I hesitated calling my Doctor, and our predicament kept slipping my mind. Boyfriend kept saying things like, "What are we going to do about it?," which would remind me that the 72 hour clock was ticking, and that the time for affirmative anti-baby action was running out. I ended up calling my Doctor who wrote out a prescription for me, sans the need to spread my legs and take a pregnancy test, which I really appreciated. It's always such a pleasant surprise when the medical field treats you like you have a brain, and are more than the sum of your reproductive parts.

I left my Doctor's office and headed for Duane Reade to fill the prescription. Walking towards the drug store, I actually became a little psyched and started playing out scenarios in my head in which the pharmacist would refuse to give me the EC, and I would have to stand up for all womenkind's right to EC. But by the time I reached the escalators, something completely unexpected happened. I started doubting whether I wanted to take the EC. Not because I was going to be sick from it, but because I started feeling like if I was pregnant already, I didn't want to send the soul of my potential baby back to baby purgatory. An odd thought for a feminist who believes whole heartedly in the absoluteness of women's rights to reproductive choice.

Part of my doubt was because I've reached a point in my life where I know that if I got pregnant, I would not have an abortion. I decided that for the first time, definitively, sometime last year. I'm 31, I can easily support myself, I want kids one day, and I know that I could take care of a baby at this point in my life. I know she and I would be fine (yes, I dream of little girls with long hair and braids that I can nurture into kick ass mini-feminists), and if the stars aligned and gave me a baby, I know that I would not send her back. Now that I've decided not to send any baby backs, it made me wonder whether taking the EC would be doing essentially the same thing?

It was crazy for me to be having these doubts about the EC, because that argument - that EC is just a form of abortion - is one that I have long been vehemently opposed to. If EC is the equivalent of abortion, then so is birth control. As a supporter of women's reproductive rights, that's not a position that I have ever felt comfortable conceding.

I've always thought about it this way: birth control is a preemptive measure that you do to prevent the baby from forming, whereas abortion is something you do to interrupt the development of the forming baby. (Baby, fetus, or embryo - whatever you call it the issue is the same. That's why I don't think the fight will be won through rhetoric. We need a fundamental change in social consciousness, not just language. Not likely under Bushy). Under this rationale, EC is an easy issue, as long as you buy into the existence of the 72 hour window in which prevention and not interruption can occur.

I've never looked at abortion as killing. Rather, I've looked at it as a temporary interruption of life. I imagine a whole cloud of baby souls playing around in the sky, with different souls being picked eached day to be sent down to earth to be nurtured in different women's bodies. I view pregnancy as a gift that is given to both women and men. But sometimes, for a number of different reasons, it is not the right time to receive such a gift. In those circumstances, where a miscarriage or an abortion or some other event happens, I imagine that the baby souls are sent back to play amongst their friends, until the destined day when their number is called once again.

Kooky perhaps, but the world wouldn't be a fair place any other way. And if I'm wrong about this, and upon my death some God sends me to some hell to live in eternal damnation for this view, so be it. Luckily, I believe in Goddesses, so I'm fairly certain I'm safe.

Although I've always been comfortable with the notion that I have 72 hours before I cross the line of no return into likely babydom, this time the thought of taking EC made me wonder if what I was doing was more like an interruption than a prevention. It made me a little sad at the thought that I might be sending some potential temporary inhabitant back. At least for the moment.

However, ultimately out of respect for my Boyfriend's wishes, and because of my own feeling that he and I are in no position to bring a baby into his tiny, tiny, box covered apartment at this time, I went through with it and I took the EC. At 4 pm, I took two tablets of Ogestrel 0.5/50 (Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets USP, 0.5 mg/ 0.05 mg). Approximately 12 hours later, at 4:30 am, I took 2 more tablets. Incidentally, the pharmacist conveniently gave me a whole pack of Ogestrel birth control pills (that's all EC is, this specific type of birth control pill taken at an exceptionally high dose). Therefore, I have 4 more EC doses left, in the event that Boyfriend and I ever need them again - which I, by the way, am fervently hoping we will not.

At 7:30 am, I woke up, and discovered that the massive hormonal dose had made me incredibly sick. I tried to get ready for work, but I couldn't. At 8:00 am, I was dry heaving over the toilet (which is always so gross, and guaranteed to make you feel even more like vomiting). Boyfriend left at 9:00 am after getting me an 8 oz bottle of ginger ale. I lay there on the bed feeling weak and like I was going to throw up at any minute. At 9:30 am, I had to run to the toilet again. This time instead of dry heaving, I threw up acrid tasting bright yellow frothy bile. It was awful. I stumbled back into bed and managed to sleep until 11:30 am. I still felt like I couldn't move three hours later, when Wood called (thankfully) to chat. It made it less awful to talk to a friend, at least for a little bit.

It was not until 4 pm that I started finally feeling better. I ate a bowl of cereal and was able to keep it down and took some tylenol which helped the headache. Of course, by the time I started feeling better, it was too late to go to work. I also started feeling the need to unpack boxes and tidy up. (I made quite a bit of progress if I do say so myself.)

This whole experience has left me thinking how utterly ridiculous it is that opponents of EC argue that if EC was made available over the counter, girls and women would use it as a form of birth control. Are they insane? No woman in her right mind would choose to go through this on a regular basis. This is another classic case of the Right forgetting that women are not brainless imbeciles.

It also left me thinking that women unquestionably get the short end of the sex stick. Do you know what Boyfriend did while I was lying on the bed unable to move feeling like I was going to vomit the whole day? He had a productive day at work, did his taxes, and came home at 9:30 pm. Unlike me, he does not have to go to work this weekend to make up for the consequences of us having to use EC. Two people have sex, and only one has to have her body racked by nausea. That's bullshit. The Goddesses should do something about that.