Feminism + Bras 2017

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Emma Watson, Vanity Fair, March 2017

Starring as Belle in Beauty & the Beast, Emma Watson appears on the cover of Vanity Fair in a nude top-and-cape number, to much criticism. Gloria Steinem was asked whether a real feminist would ever wear such a thing. “Feminists can wear anything they fucking want,” she said to TMZ.

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The Ladies Room

7 Unexpected Business Lessons I’ve Learned From Millennial WomenScreen Shot 2017-03-22 at 11.22.25 AM

I am a VP and editorial director at a large media company. Now 56 years old, I follow with interest debates about whether women at my level do enough to mentor millennial women — a heated and sometimes fractious discourse that covers why they do or don’t, if they should or shouldn’t and so much more… Read more on Tue/Night >

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The Spectacular Now

I feel as if I’ve been circling around the book “The Power of Now” for a long time, happening upon its precepts here and there, even instinctively “knowing” some of them from yoga or the Bible. And I’ve listened to people reference “Now” phrases and nodded my head thinking “that’s so true.” But then Oli gave me a book in which they are all gathered up and linked to one another in an organized way. Organized so as to make a blueprint for thinking and living a certain way. The things I’ve heard: “operating from a place of fear” or “motivated by fear” (David); recognizing one’s own “poverty” (Betsy); “look up, look around” (some random guy I interviewed in Norwalk years ago) and “really look at things” (Oliver). “Enjoy yourself” (Gail). “Lilies in the field” (the Bible). And just a couple of weeks ago, Mary talking about feeling grateful she could play tennis, could move and could apply her skill to this game she loves: “remember to love it,” she said to me, “remember to have fun.” So many people trying to tell me things that I take in for a moment then obliterate with my habits and thoughts and busyness.

I finished “The Power of Now” on the plane home from California. Personally, for me, it speaks to my patterns of compulsive thought. My defensiveness. My resentfulness. My submission to “clock time,” although I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. I feel as if I’ve been given permission to stop with all the busyness, to value slowing down, quieting my thoughts, planning, planning, planning. I woke up last night in planning mode, my mind circling through when I’d exercise, or what I’d wear, and what I need to pack for two days in the city. Future tasks to be dealt with in the future, I thought. “Now” is the time to sleep.

And here’s a “Now” moment from the plane. I read “look up, look around” and so I did and there, out the smeary little window, was a shimmering jade-colored lake, encircled by snow-capped mountains. “Utah Lake,” the lady next to me told me. I’ll take it as a reward and an encouragement to keep looking.

 

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car hop

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My first job was as what was called a car hop at an A&W in Iowa. I was just 14 — you’re legally allowed to work young in farm states — and I used my babysitting money to buy the uniform I needed from a medical apparel shop: a white polyester nurse’s tunic, zip front with big patch pockets, and matching trousers. This A&W was located along a stretch of Highway 6, a straight flat road lined with cornfields on either side. Looking back, the whole enterprise seems dubious. The iffy ROI of paying $20 for that uniform, for a job with an hourly wage of $1.25. Biking along the highway to get there wearing that scratchy white get-up, trucks barreling alongside my Schwinn. Biking home under the muggy night sky, my tips jingling in the patch pockets—dimes, sticky with root beer. But especially dubious was delivering the orders that got called in from the motel next door to the A&W. Now mostly, I’d carry food on trays that I’d hook onto the customers’ car windows. But a couple times a night, I’d be asked to carry a tray across the parking lot to the back of the motel, knock on a door and wait for the man—it was always a man—to answer.

One such scene: a man wearing underpants standing at the door with a woman lying in bed, her bare back turned toward me, just visible in the flickering light of the motel TV. When she turned toward me, a white breast flashed in the darkness.

The man noticed me noticing her. He winked, opened the door wider as if to invite me in.

“Thanks, darlin’” He said, laughing, paying for his burgers, slipping a dollar tip into one of those patch pockets.

I backed away then ran across the weedy motel parking lot to the safety of my A&W.

“Gosh,” I remember thinking, feeling shaky and a little thrilled, although I’m not sure I knew why. At the time, I probably chalked it up to that dollar tip. A whole dollar!

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bougainvillea

My grandfather used to sweep up bougainvillea blossoms from the patio every morning. Their Ventura home had a solid wall of the fuchsia flowers and they drifted down in the night air. When I lay in my tiny off-the-garage storage/bedroom I thought I could hear them, their light scrap and skitter as the moved across the patio tiles. Coming from Iowa, I was well impressed about nearly everything in California: the palm trees, the pools, the surfers and their matted blonde hair and suntanned bodies. One morning, watching my grandfather clean up the bougainvillea blossoms, recording my thoughts in my diary, it struck me that even the stuff California swept up and threw away was beautiful. Thought of this when I rode past these flowers today. I’m still well impressed by you, California.

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Past trips

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My mother keeps a diary of sorts, typing up a sheet most years of the events of the past 12 months. A cross between an analog blog and one of those Christmas letters people send to brag about their children and vacations and whatnot. She calls the folder Past Trips and it contains these pages, dated back to the 1970s. It’s even-handed to a fault. For example, her own divorce merited a sentence, as did a dinner at a noteworthy restaurant. Birth of a grandchild = 2 sentences, sometimes awarded with an exclamation mark (“What a surprise! A boy in the family!” announced Oliver’s birth) All of her daughters looked either “beautiful” or “great” on their wedding days, as well as “happy.” I looked great, in case you were wondering.

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La La Land

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, talk-singing and walk-dancing through the light n’ lively score. Appealing, but I had to think twice about whether to put it on pause before I went to the bathroom or just let it run its predictable course. Best part was the lilting “City of Dreams.” Most tiresome: Stone’s stricken look, meant to convey resolve, sadness, disbelief. One look, many meanings. Second most tiresome: Stone’s dresses, which look like the kind of thing you’d wear to a high-school dance that isn’t quite a prom—knee-length, highly-colored, cap-sleeved, A-line. But the movie was a fitting choice for the flight to California—much better than “Swimming,” a dark novel about a family traumatized by the death of one of the sons, who bashed his head on the rock ledges around their freezing New Hampshire pond.

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Perfectly fine

This is something my dad would say: perfectly fine, perfectly good. This would describe, variously, a bruised apple, an expired pint of milk, a dinged-up pair of skis that were bought secondhand, made by an off brand using a bad font.

Perfect and fine are good words, describing good things. But together, coming from him, they connoted the opposite. Not ideal but eat it any way. Maybe spoiled, maybe not but drink it anyway. You’re lucky to be skiing at all, so what if the skis are from Sears.

I tell my daughter a story about how I felt on the ski mountain with my family. My Dad would make ham sandwiches that we would stuff in our ski suits in the morning, along with peanuts, left in the shells. The peanuts were for staving off hunger so we wouldn’t have to buy the overpriced food at the ski lodge. We’d eat them on the lifts, dropping the shells into the woods below. At some point, we’d clomp into the lodge in our off-brand ski boots, extract our skiied-on sammies from our ski suits and eat them, while looking longingly at the girls with their ski-lodge chili, with their fashionable skiwear, with their smooth ponytails (this rankled me, in particular, because my hair was frizzy). We felt, somehow, that we didn’t really belong at the same tables as the chili buyers.

When I had kids of my own, I bought the ski-lodge chili and the ski-lodge cocoa as well, and felt vindicated and deserving of my seat at the ski-lodge table. But in my mind, “ski lodge chili” is still a catchphrase for something that’s close, but out of reach. Something I can’t have. Another word, meaning the same thing: Friendish. Something your friends have that you don’t have. Examples: the freedom to pour dubious but not bad-smelling milk down the drain; plastic baggies with the little zippers, not the foldover flaps; swimming pools; central air.

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No broughtupsy to be found

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Best piece of writing about KAC I’ve read, taking her to task for acting like a 10-year-old, far as I can see: feet on the couch, knees all splayed, playing with her phone. Says Awesomely Luvvie: “This woman ain’t got no home training. Not a piece of broughtupsy to be found. Does she have on shoes? That couch looks like it stains easily and I don’t know where her feet have been and what she’s trudging in. I’m just mad for whoever has to come clean … and so much more >

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