Hire Your Mom

I’m drawn to articles about ageism, especially as that relates to women who achieved real success and, at the age of 50 or 60 or even older, still have it. “It” being some combination of experience, expertise, management skills, a strong work ethic and the potential to grow in a job. Currency, in a word.

But the workplace views her as a worker whose currency has been so devalued she’s not even considered for positions for which she’s well- (or over-) qualified,

(I see errors I’ll let stand that reveal bias in my own writing: “60 or even older” and “still.”)

An editor and one-time EIC of McCall’s, Sally Koslow is “lucky” enough to have published novels, she writesUnhappy Retirement in The New York Times. So while she doesn’t appear to be struggling, she feels the bias all the same: “In my mid-fifties I was shown the door,” says Koslow, who wrote the novel “Little Pink Slips,” about the magazine world. “The old saw goes that on a deathbed body wishes they’d spent more time at the office, but I suspect many women whose careers stop prematurely do.”

She makes the point that women who choose (and who can choose to) take off a few years, or a decade, to raise children, have a narrow window to achieve success. Rejoin the workforce at 35 or 40 and you have 20 years to succeed. After that, if you’re Koslow, you’re joining “the gig economy,” as she calls it, while admitting that hers is a pretty good gig. On the other hand, a woman I met recently spoke of her current gigs, hustling for video and film projects after having worked on staff at Saturday Night Live. “To make ends meet, she works at the food-sampling table at B.J.’s,” a mutual friend confided to me.

So I join Koslow in her plea to HR people everywhere: “Hire someone’s your mom’s age.”

 

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Anger in America

Lizza-Scaramucci

“Angry” is the word used to characterize Trump’s base. Collectively, these voters had long been fed up with feeling marginalized, left behind, left out, and laid off. Then Trump rose up to give voice to their anger, pointing fingers of blame all over the place (but especially at “the Dems” and “Crooked Hillary”). There’s a funny New Yorker piece called “Don’t Blame Yourself,” enumerating all the things that are no one’s fault (but especially not the fault of the guileless “you” in the piece): “Your teeth were fine until that dentist said you had a bunch of cavities,” and so on.

When Hillary Clinton played into Trump’s narrative with her regrettable “basket of deplorables” remark, she further evoked the ire of the angry populace who, during campaign season, had been given permission to be angry and loudly so. No longer do they have to suffer in silence. The reaction is parallel to that of the stereotypical redneck who now feels emboldened to mock people who are educated. Or bigots who now feel it is OK to disparage “liberals” as “PC.” America no longer has a prevailing “live and let live” or “agree to disagree” culture. People are dug into their anger, hardened by their grudges, and, seemingly, would rather see their country fall apart than make progress toward a shared goal. Because the divide between Trump and his supporters and everyone else is too great. We don’t, actually, share anything. We don’t have anything in common, or so it seems.

I am thinking of this on the train, where I find myself sighing overly loudly in the direction of a woman on her cell phone, loudly conversing about this and that. When I catch her eye she gives me the finger.

Anger in America.

And, finally, I’m remembering a little incident at a recent Zara sale. The cashiers’ line was long and slow. A woman asks, loudly, if she might go to the front of the line because she is illegally parked outside and needs to return clothing right away because the 30-day return window ends today. No one speaks up. I say “I’m sorry, I’ve got to say ‘no,’ to that. We’ve all been waiting at least for 20 minutes.” The woman grumbles something like: “Well that’s a New Yorker for you.” I say, “Well you did ask. And it’s not like it’s a medical emergency.” To which she says: “Not everything’s a medical emergency, lady.” Which is a stupid retort and I stupidly replied “can’t argue with that.”

Anger in America.

I wrote all this before Anthony Scaramucci unloaded onto The New Yorker an expletive-laced tirade against Reince Priebus. It’s getting worse.

 

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Women + Wine

From Quartz, an article that promises to reveal “the real reason women drink too much wine.” The writer, who is now sober, points to the literal wash of alcohol all over the media, her office, the birthday card rack and even billboards: “Driving home from work, I pass billboard ads for Fluffed Marshmallow Smirnoff and Iced Cake Smirnoff and not just Cinnamon, but Cinnamon Churros Smirnoff.” The birthday card thing is something I’ve noticed too — with their jokey invitations to “rose all day” and also:

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But, no, the real reason she’s an alcoholic is that she is an alcoholic, as it turns out, and it’s really damn hard to be a women in this world.

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Warning: The 5 Most Dangerous Women Your Husband Knows

No surprises here and if you don’t want to read it, here’s the list: colleague; ex-girlfriend; local MILF; personal trainer; babysitter.

The only news  is that this is from TheGirlfriend, a new editorial vertical from AARP for “women ages 40+ (we’re talking to you, Gen-Xers!) to convene, confab, commiserate and learn more about the ways life is affecting us right now.”

I will reserve judgment even while applauding their tastefully clickbait-y headlines, including “Do I Drink Too Much Wine?” (The short answer: maybe, but not as much as she does.) This lead me to a much-shared Quartz article about why women drink too much, aka why they are super-double tanked. It’s better. Stay tuned.

 

 

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Men behaving badly

 

 

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Jennifer Weiner

In an opinion piece called “The Men Who Never Grow Up,” Jennifer Weiner observes that “Americans have a soft spot for our troublemakers and scamps,” excusing the bad behavior on the part of one particular “honest kid” with a dismissive “that’s politics”—even when that kid is 39 years old and his scampishness appears to have included colluding with the Russians to interfere with the presidential election.

“Women and nonwhite men don’t have it quite as easy,” Weiner writes, trenchantly: “If boys will be boys, then girls must be grown-ups, whose job it is to protect men from their worst impulses.” Or serve as post-indiscretion apologists: “like boys in the locker room,” appeased Melania Trump about her husband bragging about his pussy-grabbing prowess. Also implicated in that incident was Billy Bush, who excused his own poor judgment with “I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along.” He was 33 at the time.

When Anderson Cooper pressed Melania, she stayed on point: “It’s kinda like two teenage boys — actually they should behave better, right?” she said.

Cooper: “He was 59.”

Compare all that with condemnation heaped upon female celebrities behaving badly. Lindsay Lohan, while not one of my very favorite people (except for her star turn in “The Parent Trap” 10 years ago, when she was adorbs), is a pariah. Confusing, yes, so here’s the bottom line: men who behave badly are forgiven, women are not and, salt to the wound, must clean up the messes made by males.

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Mean Moms

There’s an epidemic of mean moms in the entertainment I’m watching. Reese Witherspoon is hilarious as the take-no-prisoners Madeline in Big Little Lies: it’s Elle Woods, 10 years out of Harvard with her J.D. degree gathering dust in one of the many hundreds of rooms in her swank, NoCal beach house, polarizing principals, pupils and—most of all—the other moms at her daughter’s school. Debate her big heart versus her “meanness” all you like but, spoiler alert, someone is killed and the killer is not a man (although he deserved her wrath, for sure). 31-big-little-lies.w710.h473.2x

I just finished watching the elliptically named “Gypsy,” a Netflix series starring Naomi Watts as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist whose cognition and behavior become increasingly suspect. “Boring, boring, boring,” lamented a Newsday reviewer, who complains that even “the city that never sleeps,” the series’ setting, “manages to doze off in the middle of the never-ending torpor that has become her life.” Agreed, but my point is: Watts’ character is attacked by a cadre of sniping and biting mean moms and she bites back.  I also object to her Connecticut home, which somehow has a view of the Tappan Zee Bridge from the backyard.

Gypsy

And who cares?

Then there’s the shelf full of books about mean moms. A same-named tome written by a daughter “overcoming the legacy of hurt. The comic-book like  “Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later” — wow, there’s just so much wrong with this book (including a terrible font) that we will set it aside.

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And apparently, there’s a Jennifer Aniston vehicle called Mean Moms, that’s reported as stuck in development. Just as well, perhaps.

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Earth as One Big Forgiveness School (and other thoughts from Anne Lamott)

 

In her writing, Anne Lamott has a wry and gentle way of pointing me in a good direction. She doesn’t want to be the object of attention, although she garners radical amounts of positivity when she posts. Rather, she is like a signpost that says “try going over there instead.” In her first TED talk, she identifies 12 things she knows to be true, as informed by her 60-plus years on earth (which she celebrates, she says, because she’s glad to know longer be in the death throes of late-middle-age). Here are the truths that mean the most to me:

  1. Insisting on helping people all the time is the sunny side of control. Stop helping so much. Stop getting your helpfulness and goodness all over everybody.

 

  1. Nothing outside of you will fix you. It’s an inside job. (Her parenthetic exception: unless you’re waiting for an organ.)

 

  1. Food: try to do a little better. “I think you know what I mean.”

 

  1. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it in a few minutes, including yourself.

 

  1. Quoting Ram Dass: When all is said and done, we’re really just all walking each other home.

 

  1. Earth is one big forgiveness school. (My parenthetic truth: I’m pretty sure I’m not a star student.)

 

  1. Grace bats last. I read this in an essay and I don’t know what this means. Even so, I hope it’s true.
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“The Slightest Thing To Do to a Baby” (and other family phrases)

Families are just a kind of tribe and, as such, have their own languages. Sometimes we say things to each other, quoting something or someone, and the listener will say: “what’s that from?” Meaning it sounds familiar (or familial) but she can’t place its origin. Even explaining this makes me wonder if it would make sense to anyone outside my family (hello, Janet!) Or, conversely, I’ll use a family-understood phrase, only to baffle my non-family audience. Once I said, apropos of I can’t remember, “I’ll be nappin’ like a baby by lunchtime.” And then to the baffled listener I had to say: “That’s not a thing, I guess?” When I told this story to Lily, she laughed, and understood, but also couldn’t place the phrase. Consider this a lexicon to a tribal language. Perhaps you have your own?

  1. “That’s the slightest thing to do to a baby!” Said anytime you object to something someone has done. Origin: unknown.
  2. “Tired as a person.” Said of dogs, usually. Origin: unknown.
  3. “Although not in my garden…” While this sounds specific to horticulture, it can be used as an all-purpose prevarication. Origin: Block Island, circa 2009, because it came up after many hours of playing Apples to Apples.
  4. Loving or hating something “to bitsies, bodies and bones.” Translation: a lot. Origin: unknown.
  5. “Family dance!” Said when one family member makes a ridiculous suggestion of what the family might do together. Origin: Jamaica, circa 2008, when Steve suggested the four of us dance together at a reggae bar. Teenagers were aghast.
  6. “You gotta get the money!” Said when someone needs to wrangle funds that are rightfully theirs. Origin: Brooklyn, circa 2015, when Lily was ripped off by her Air BnB guests.
  7. “Sick as a pig.” Said when you’re sick. Origin: maybe Lily or Oli as a child, misstating “sick as a dog.” Or maybe it’s a British thing, read in a book.
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The Daily Word

My grandmother had a well-thumbed book of prayers that published one “word” per day, which she would read in the breakfast room. Turns out, it’s still a thing and, inevitably, an online thing: the dailyword.com. Today’s word is this:

But he said to me, “The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you and make your way successful.”—Genesis 24:40

I understand nothing of this quote—not the syntax, not the odd reference to success, not the nature of the angel. But I bet she would have.

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