Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

No

by mollykl

It occurred to me today that I’ve never heard a man ask another man, who’s concentrating on his job, “are you cranky today?” or “are you having a bad day?” just because everything, including a not insignificant workload, was not dropped to hit them with a beaming smile. (For the record, I said hi, and then went back to the aforementioned not insignificant workload).

How often are men told “you should smile” or the odious version “smile honey!” One of my co-workers, who I adore, has a serious resting bitch face, but no one ever tells him to smile.

In college I was once told, “You’d be pretty if you got contacts.” (For the record, I look the same.) I’m sure the jackass thought he was being “helpful”.

At one of my first jobs my manager would stand there, not working I would like to add, and just watch me work and make comments about my legs and breasts. He also did the “accidental” brush up thing. You know that move, you’ve probably been subjected to that move before. I’m going to guess most men haven’t.

You’re over reacting.

Don’t be so sensitive.

Why are you being such a bitch?

Just ignore it.

You’re going to have to learn to deal with that.

Guess what? No.

No to all of it. No to the double standard that says I have to be merry fucking sunshine all of the time, but men can be serious and focused.  No to strangers giving me unsolicited advice about my glasses, my skin, my hair, or the fact that I should wear more feminine clothes and makeup. No to anyone who thinks they have the right to make crude remarks about my body.

I don’t care if you think I’m being overly sensitive.  I don’t care if you think I’m being a bitch. If my reaction is upsetting you, then you don’t matter to me. Care about more. Care about the inequality in the world, not that you think I’m cranky because I was doing my job instead of chatting you up. Care about the fact that you can write off seriousness in a woman as a bad thing. Care that women are subjected to standards that men would never put up with.

Because guess what? From now on I’m saying no, and I’m going to keep on saying it until you listen.

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Why Agent Carter matters

by mollykl

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter in Agent Carter:

The ABC show Agent Carter, the continuing adventures of Agent Margaret “Peggy” Carter, post Captain America, was cancelled this week much to the chagrin of those of who value, oh, good writing, believable and complex characters and strong storylines.

As I’ve mention before, in “You’ve come a long way, baby”  Agent Carter was unusual in today’s t.v. programming in that it allowed it’s characters to be layered and complicated. The bright colors of the sets and costumes belied the darkness of the storylines, of the everything the characters had seen and done during the war, and the reality of going back to “normal life”.   The show was the perfect reminder that the right thing can be done for the wrong reasons, and vice versa. Peggy is not perfect, her male co-workers can be assholes, a couple of the female antagonists are psychopaths, the good guys have dark secrets and the bad guys are sympathetic in their own ways.

And that’s just the show in general – that doesn’t even begin to get to the heart of Peggy herself. Here was a character for the ages – and one that made you wonder why it’s 2016 and we’re only NOW getting our “Wonder Woman” movie made, why there’s still practically zip in the way of “Black Widow” toys and don’t get me started on how Rey, the main-freaking-character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was cut out of the merchandising. Watching Agent Carter and witnessing the open hostility that was faced by women, on the job, in the street, and well, everywhere is a reminder of how far we’ve come. Watching Peggy deal with that shit is a reminder of how it’s done. Given that we’ve got a presidential candidate who has publicly referred to women as “a piece of ass” I think it’s safe to say that while we have come a long way we have a long way yet to go. Peggy handled it all. This is the hero we, not just women but all of us, need. For that matter, I’ll say that both Dottie and Whitney are the villains we need – they are each in their own way reflections of Peggy – smart, skilled, in Dottie’s case expendable, and in Whitney’s case undervalued and overlooked.

Peggy’s not a real person – I get that – but we need  characters real and fictional to learn and grow from and women need to be represented. I have plenty of real women who I look up to and who inspire me: the “Night Witches”, Eleanor Roosevelt, Stephanie Kwolek (inventor of Kevlar), Misty Copeland, and Lillian Hellman, to name a few. At least for a little while I had a make-believe one who kicked ass while wearing red lipstick.

“Look at what we can do”

by mollykl

We have one of those movie dvd rental boxes at the front of the store I work at, and the previews for each movie will stay for months. So everyday I pass by…and see the Tibetan prayer flags, the perfect blue sky, and the beautiful mountain scenery…and I know what’s coming. The previews for Everest play every day, every ten minutes, and have for months now. Most days I manage to hold it together, but some days I don’t, and for that I credit some really good writing by Jon Krakauer.

One day I was getting my lunch and watching the screen and the checker said to me, “Well, that’s just stupid. Why would they do that – they put themselves in danger.”

So why do people climb mountains? The simple answer might just be: because it’s there. Because once you’ve seen it, how can you not want to? Isn’t that the whole point of being human? To try the impossible, until it is no longer impossible? Climbing, free diving, exploring – these things move humanity forward, they help us to understand our world and our place in it. It’s a physical philosophy of sorts, and just as important as the purely mental. Seeing what we are capable of is inspiring. “Look at what we can do.” There’s a sense of pride and satisfaction in seeing what we are capable of.

20 years ago, on May 10-11 several climbing teams were on Mt. Everest, either ascending from or attempting to summit and when the storm hit everything went to hell. As luck would have, or not, both a journalist, Krakauer, and an IMAX team, were on Everest, at that time. 8 people died.

There have been worse incidents on Everest since then. Higher death tolls. But the drive to climb the highest peak in the world, to literally touch the sky, is everlasting.

 

The quote “Look at what we can do” is from Aaron Sorkin’s days on “Sports Night” and the episode “The Quality of Mercy at 29k”.

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland.”

by mollykl

But this is California. Central California, no less, which hasn’t seen snow since 1986 (or so J tells me), but when I lived in Spokane we saw snow. First big, real snow of the season, I’d find a comfy place to hide out, usually in the english department building, curl up nice and warm, re-read James Joyce’s “The Dead” and watch the snow fall.

It’s a dark and stormy night here, perfect for the reflective mood that the dark days of winter and the end of the year bring, an ideal time for some Joyce.

Grab a port, or a scotch, and a comfy chair and a copy of “The Dead”, reflect on your mortality and the concept of grace, remember the friends you’ve lost and those that you keep close, and enjoy the snow falling softly and some of the finest words ever written in the English language.

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crocked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last, upon all the living and the dead.”

James Joyce

Age appropriate

by mollykl

Son j is reading The Island of the Blue Dolphins for class. He’s in fourth grade, and they are all reading it together – two chapters in class each day, and one chapter at home. Husband J and I were thrilled that he’d get to read it and excitedly told him how great it is and that he is so lucky.

Yeah, that was all well and good until he gets to the point where otters, his favorite animal by the way, are killed and skinned. He was inconsolable. We dealt with it the best way we could, and we think he understands what we were saying, or at least trying to say. The whole thing’s been on my mind a lot today.

On my lunch I used Google to see if any other parents had advice or reactions. You know what I got? I got “why is this book being read by such young children!” “this book is too violent for this grade”.

Last night at the dinner table Husband J, when asked about his day, said that he had trainings, one of which was an “active shooter” training. Son j asked what that was and we had to tell him, our 9 year old, that he does active shooter trainings every year and has since first grade. He asked, “Oh, is that the one where we have to hide and keep very very quiet?”  He didn’t really understand why they had to do it, but he knew it was important. We felt the “why” of that one was best left till he is older.

My kid sees practicing response for a shooting as normal, but you’re worried that a story of survival that is a freakin’ Newbery Medal winner is too violent. For that matter as children my generation had to practice the stupid and utterly worthless “dunk and cover” (newsflash, we were surrounded by three Air Force bases, in case of nuclear attack, that desk was not going to be much help.)

Yes, he’s upset about the otters being killed. Good for him. He’s not a sociopath. You know how I’m going to keep it that way? I’m going to have him continue to read books that challenge him, and make him feel, and make him question.

 

Harriet Vane

by mollykl

I honestly have no idea how many books I’ve read so far in my life. Oh, I take those “How many of these great books have you read?” tests online (here’s a hint: not as many as you’d think) for fun, but at the end of the day I’m not worried about adding to my “great books read” list – I’m just looking for the next thing to read.

I firmly believe that if you’re a reader you are, in fact, a conglomeration of all you’ve read, of every hero, villain, personality quirk, vicarious experience and life that you’ve absorbed, the good and the bad. I am all that I have read.

Of course if you’re a reader you have favorites. Mine are Phryne Fisher, Julia Grey-Brisbane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Elizabeth Bennet, Irene Adler, Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Meg Murray O’Keefe and Amelia Peabody Emerson, just to name a few. But if I had to pick just one, it would be…

Harriet Vane.

She of claret gowns and scholar’s robes. She’s quiet, unassuming, fucking brilliant and her marriage to Peter is an unintended foreshadowing of the approaching class-crisis in England. She has the brains of Oracle, the self-preservation of Irene Adler, the stubbornness of Julia Brisbane, the drive of Phryne Fisher…well, I could go on.

Yeah I know, I’m none of those things, but…I am…a little. And a little is all that’s needed.

I don’t read to impress you. I read to learn, to grow, and to experience. I’ve found that as long as I can form an emotional attachment to a character I’m able to do just that.

So tell me, who are you?

5 things that are great about being an only child

by mollykl

A news story was just on talking about the growing childhood obesity problem in China, and mentioned that the “one child” policy is part of the problem. The reporter then went on to list all of the problems with only children.

I was sooooo glad that my only child son got to sit there and listen to everything that someone else thinks is wrong with him (none of which had anything to do with childhood obesity in China).

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. We call that life. Son j had to sit and listen to a stranger list that he’s self centered, risk-adverse, lonely, lacking in empathy and non -competitive. (He is actually risk-adverse).

So as a counterbalance to all the negative he heard this morning, here I present the list of things that are good about being a single child:

  1. I don’t lose my mind. Really, I can barely handle the one child I’ve got, you think I could handle two?
  2. Empathy. I don’t know where the news story got their information about only children lacking empathy, or maybe they’ve never met the children I know. It’s probably not a coincidence that two of son j’s favorite literary heroes are only children and both are a bit odd, but both have helped to teach him about standing up for others and reserving judgement.
  3. Less competition, and I don’t mean of the good kind. I have a younger sister who’s prettier, smarter and cooler than I am. I wouldn’t wish that kind of competition on anyone. Son j will not grow up feeling like he never quite measures up.
  4. No “built in friends”. Son j doesn’t have a constant companion. When he makes friends he has to actually go out and put some effort in to the process.
  5. Amazing imagination. After the video games are done he’s on his own with his books and art supplies and imagination. He writes stories and tells them to us and acts them out. His solitude has meant that he has a better daily word count than I do. (Something he’s quite proud of). I’m thinking of signing him up for nanowrimo.

I still, at 47, get comments about when I’m going to give son j a sibling. People, I’m 47, that ship has sailed. We never intended to have more children. We’re quite content with the one we’ve got. I wouldn’t trade my sister for anything (although if given the chance I might sell her), but I also don’t think Husband J had less of a childhood because he was an only child.

You know what makes a childhood? Being a child. Period. As adults how about we stop judging and let kids be kids?

My 10 favorite foods

by mollykl

1. cassoulet

2. misir wot from Queen of Sheba

3. kansas city barbecue pork sausage from Nugget Market

4. chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, mine, recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

5. roasted asparagus

6. corn on the cob

7. pesto, on anything

8. duck confit, ditto

9. spaghetti carbonara, mine, recipe courtesy Seventeen Magazine circa 1984

10. bacon (but not “bacon…anything else” no bacon salt, no bacon chocolate, no bacon mustard. just bacon)

The 5 best quotes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that will make your day better

by mollykl

Oy. You know what’s awesome about a bad day? The chance to make it better and realize that you survived said bad day. In my case this involved the series finale episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – one of my go-to bad day cure-alls.

So in honor of Ms Summers and the feminist icon that she is (kicks ass, takes no shit, still not afraid to like girly-clothes and shoes) I present the 5 best quotes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that will make your day better. Thank you Joss Whedon.

  1. Giles:  God, every day here is the same. Buffy: Bright, sunny, beautiful. However can we escape this torment?
  2. Giles: I’m just going to stay and clean up a little. I’ll be back in the Middle Ages. Jenny: Did you ever leave?
  3. [Willow brings Buffy, who is in hospital, her homework] Buffy: Homework. Willow: It’s my way of saying get well soon. Buffy: You know, chocolate says that even better. Willow: I did all your assignments. All you have to do is sign your name. Buffy: Chocolate means nothing to me.
  4. Angelus: No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what’s left? Buffy: Me.
  5. Buffy: So here’s the part where you make a choice. What if you could have that power, now? In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power, should be *our* power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of this scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?

5 words I’m removing from my vocabulary

by mollykl

Effective immediately I’m removing the following 5 words from my vocabulary.

I. Am. Done.

I realize I’ve been using most of them as a form of false modesty (let’s be realistic, I know I’m not stupid), but using them at all isn’t doing me any favors. I mean really, if I can’t stand up for myself, to myself, who can I stand up for?

Say goodbye:

5. Fat – What the hell does this word accomplish unless you’re making a salad dressing or a marinade?

4. Ugly – So I don’t ascribe to the accepted norm of beauty – that doesn’t make me ugly. What it does make me is appreciative of all forms of beauty.

3. Bitch – I will stop referring to myself as a bitch simply because I am calling you out on your shit.

2. Stupid – I love my friend K because whenever I say “Oh my God I’m so stupid” and she hears it she gets angry and says, “Don’t say that about my friend.” It’s a little thing but it reminds me that the crap I wouldn’t put up with being said about a friend I will gladly heap on myself. And, come on, we all know I’m fucking brilliant.

1.Sorry – I’m tired of apologizing all the time. I’m not sorry, I’m learning. I’m not sorry, I have something to say. I’m not sorry, I’m standing up for myself. I’m not sorry, I want service. I’m not sorry for my existence. I am sorry that it took me this long to figure that out. But I won’t say it out loud.