We were watching a television show the other day, and one of the characters purchased a $10,000 bottle of champagne. I wondered, "How many people in this world actually have the palate to appreciate the difference between a $10,000 bottle of champagne and a $1,000 bottle of champagne?" I do believe there are some folks who could genuinely taste the value and experience terrific joy from such an investment. And assuming that a $10,000 spend didn't create hardship for themselves or anyone else, more power to them. I certainly do not have that palate. I enjoy all products of the grape, but I know the limitations of my sensibilities. For me, my life would experience no greater benefit from the $10,000 bottle than it would from the $1,000 bottle. So defines the extent to which I am willing to spend money on champagne.
Motherhood, even the most well-intentioned versions, is messy, filled with mistakes, and infused with worry. We are told from our earliest days that it’s not supposed to be those things. Television and popular culture tell us – have always told us – that successful parenting is simply a blend of a strict-but-loving mother who can handle any crisis with a wry comment and a dose of practicality, and a loving father who backs up mother and throws in a pinch of discipline as needed.
Both my 29-year-old daughter and my 22-year-old son are in the midst of navigating their most serious relationships to date and I am removing myself from a friendship that wasn't what I thought it was. Of course, we are always in the midst of relationship activity, but this is a lot new and changing activity at once. Which provides a terrific opportunity to reflect on the nature of crazy as it relates to the ones we love.
I was delighted to see Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Glenn Close, and Bette Midler tonight on the Oscars. I recognized them. And though I am hardly in-the-know about whether or not they have had cosmetic surgery, if they have, they've kept a light hand about it. They are beautiful women past the age of 55 who look past the age of 55.
Which is brave in a society that still primarily values women based on bust size and curve ratio. Particularly in Hollywood, where sex appeal still matters at least as much as talent, the women who refuse to try to look 20 years younger are practically taking a stand.
The majority of women still spend the first 20 years of life learning what the world expects, the next 25 years devoted to families, and finally, finally, we get to ourselves. What we expect ourselves to be. What we now have time to become. But at that exciting moment, with all the time and potential in the world before us, too many women look in the mirror and see only the wrinkles, the gray hair, the softened jaw line, the extra pounds. We fail to inspire ourselves because the reflection in the mirror doesn't live up to society's expectations of fuckability.
As if that's all we're good for. As if that's what we aspire to.
Poor Kim Novak. She doesn't need kissable puffed-up lips, a wrinkle-free face, she doesn't need to look 35 to remind me of her glamor. She could have walked out on that stage with a face that bragged of her 81 years and held our attention. I don't think for one moment it was vanity that drove her decision to hit the botox hard. I don't think it's ego that causes Goldie Hawn to keep going under the knife. It's lack of self-worth. If the only value you've placed on yourself is society's meter of youth and fecundity, then you can't look in the mirror and take pride in the woman staring back.
Sure, the human attraction to fertility has a strong biological basis. But in other cultures, other times, a deep appreciation for survival, contribution, and the wisdom one gains over time have also played an important part. I gratefully traded my flirtatious and slightly wild years for my child-bearing and nurturing years. And now I've traded that role for my next phase. Maiden. Mother. Crone. All powerful archetypes, equally valid.
I'm not saying that one's 50s and 60s can't be vital and exciting. Just that we don't need to look 25 or 35 to experience the benefits. Will I still use my eye cream and my skin tone corrector? Certainly. That's a bit of vanity. But I will also celebrate my laugh lines and every reminder that I am older and therefore wiser. That's self worth.
Four people that I trusted and cared about really let me down in the last few months by being greedy, selfish, ungrateful, unkind, gossipy, victimy, a bit crazy, etc. You know how not-fun that is, because it happens to everyone at some point.
But yesterday, I caught myself telling a dear friend that I was having a hard time trusting people. Which is weird, because I'm a trusting person. We're talking Pollyanna status. So I thought about it, and I realized that my perspective may have become inappropriately skewed.
I get so tired of these hateful memes bashing SNAP recipients. The best data out there suggests that less than 1% - that's 1% - of SNAP payments are used for fraudulent purposes. So for every 1 (likely middle-class according to the data) SNAP fraud perpetrator, there are 99 people just trying to keep their kids in cornflakes. If they have a tattoo, they probably got it before they lost their job. If they have a cell phone, so what? We all have a need to have a phone - you can't even find a payphone any more. And does being dirt poor mean you've lost your right to have a beer once in a while? If we're such a Christian country, where the heck did our compassion run off to? And why are we so vested in bashing the working poor? There but for the grace of God go I.
I hadn't been a parent for long at all before I realized that it's impossible to do the parenting thing perfectly. No matter how hard we try, we screw up often enough to have a few regrets. So I started telling my children that I would be happy to pay for half their therapy, figuring that I was at least covering my own damage.
Last week we were out to dinner with my daughter, grand-daughter, and my daughter's boyfriend. We were making family plans for the following weekend, and at the mention that the following Friday was Valentine's day, my daughter rolled her eyes and her boyfriend instantly stiffened up.
"What's up with Valentine's day?" I asked.
As a society, we appear to have no skills related to argument. What's that you say? We argue a lot? Actually, most people quarrel rather than argue, though they may do so without physical involvement or raised voices. In fact, most people do not know what argument is.
This is unfortunate, because we need good, productive, challenging argument - in our family life, in our businesses, and in our shared communities. Argument is supposed to be the act of thinking together. Of both offering and considering persuasive ideas backed by facts and observations in order to advance our understanding.
and the Not-So-Subtle Shift it Heralds
Anyone with a Facebook page and a modest command of the English language can be quickly disheartened by the appalling lack of spelling and grammar skill in our society. Even taking into account the percentage of people believed to have dyslexia or other impediments to reading and writing (10% - 15%), the results seem to be damning.
What makes a person believe that others owe him or her more than they owe in return? People who constantly borrow money from others but never pay it back, people who expect others to bail them out from problems they have caused, people who will do anything to get their own way, people who are indignant when they break the rules and then have to suffer the consequences -