A piece of good news

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!  – Anne Frank.
 
Today would be Anne Frank’s 83rd birthday. It would be my father’s 79th. I’m thinking about them both a lot today.
 
My father introduced me to Anne Frank somewhere close to my 13th birthday, Anne’s age when she began her diary. Like so many girls, I felt like she was writing specifically for me (I also love Carole King when I’m having heartbreak and want to be Holly Golightly – the movie one not the book one. I know I’m a cliché). Despite her tragic story, Frank was a role model in optimism, forgiveness, and fortitude. When I was struggling with my mother, I’d read her struggles with her own mom. When I wondered about boys, I remembered her words (“Boys will be boys, which would be fine except that girls keep being girls” – something like that). Anne aspired to be a great writer and no matter what horrors unfolded in front of her, she never stopped believing in the potential of the future. She made me believe in my own potential.
As did my dad. He was a sportswriter with no sons. I asked him once if it bothered him and he said – every man should be lucky enough to have daughters. With sons, you want them to follow in your footsteps, to be better men than you were. With daughters, you can just love them completely and revel in all their accomplishments.

I did follow in my dad’s footsteps a bit and he didn’t always just sit back and let us be. He believed in working hard and moving forward. And like Anne Frank, he believed everyone had the power to live their dream no matter what stood in their way.

So dad and Anne – I’m raising a glass to you tonight (and I hope somewhere you’re raising one together – I think you’d like each other).
 
Thank you both for your belief – in me and in the future. I hope I make you proud!  
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A hero for John? Title IX and my toilet…

I needed a plumber.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m moving (Moving Out? Moving on up? not really sure, but I am moving…). Anyway one of the rules of the sale is that I leave the house “broom clean,” Fair enough, but I figure I can do a bit better than that. I’ve had a leaky toilet forever, I should just get a plumber in and fix it before I go.

I asked a friend for a referral and she said – “oh, you have to get Chris. You’ll LOVE Chris!” OK – Say I, I’ll get Chris. “Before you do,” my friend cautioned, “you should know Chris is Chris – the Title IX woman.” Not sure what that meant, I asked her to elaborate. Instead, she directed me to the 2000 documentary A Hero For Daisy, a film that I had somehow missed when it came out, but am so happy to know about today.

“A Hero for Daisy” documents how, in 1976, 20 women from the Yale rowing team, led by Chris Ernst, forced the school to comply with Title IX’s call that all institutions receiving federal funding have fair and equal benefits for both men and women. While Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendment of 1972, has had its strongest impact on the high school and college sports, it does not specifically mention athletics. 

At Yale, the women on the crew team were forced to wait in buses following competitions, while the men used the showers and clubhouse that had been built for them. Left to shiver as the cold chilled through their sweaty athletic wear, they began to put a plan in place to demand fair treatment. At a meeting with college administrators, they stripped to reveal TITLE IX penned onto their naked torsos; Chris Ernst read a statement about Yale’s exploitation of their bodies; and history was made. Chris went on to become a two time Olympian and is now a plumber in Boston’s Western suburbs.

My beloved uncle was here this weekend to help me with some moving issues. I returned from a trip for fortification (pizza and beer) to find him on his back in my bathroom. “That won’t be giving you any more problems,” he proudly announced!

So I find myself no longer in need of a plumber and, for the first time, a great desire to hire one, if only to meet such a remarkable trailblazer. Do you think she’ll be able to figure out, CSI style, how my towel ended up lodged in the pipes?

 

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Cleaning House

I’m getting ready to move. I live in a house I inherited filled with memories and clutter and its time to leave – in fact I’ll be leaving for good in a week.

Its a lonely, but satisfying process, sorting my life, as well as my parents and sister’s into piles – keep, storage, charity, give to family/friends, ebay, toss. So often I’ve lost hours distracted by some sentimental item. Sometimes I find things I swear I’d never seen before, despite their being right there in my house.

Beautiful dresses from wonderful moments – weddings or parties – that I will never wear again still require a personal fashion show. As my iPod dance music playlist blares, I try on each item, spin in front of the mirror and then slip it into the appropriate pile.

Yesterday, I tried to sort through several years worth of cards and letters intent on purging the majority of them. So many of the intimate notes came from senders I couldn’t even remember. Love letters I hadn’t looked at in years drew some tears, late night (possibly  ill-advised) emailing, and much nostalgia.  I threw away the ribboned stack of cards received after each parent’s death without opening them. They’d all been acknowledged before and reliving those sad days is something I can’t bring myself to do.

Photos are all coming with me. So many photos. I really should go through them, but I can’t seem to.

This morning I looked around at my piles and decided, per the de-cluttering directions in just about every self-help journal, to cut my “keep” pile in half. Armed with a venti latte I went to work.

My grandmother’s cast iron pans, the only pans on which I’ve ever enjoyed cooking – keeping. Her teacup collection, which is too precious to sell, but I can’t see bringing with me, has become my personal thank you gift. Each helper and close friend leaves with a single delicate china cup. I’m not sure how the receiver feels about it, but I love the thought that everyone I love has a little bit of my history with them. The dozens of bowls I’ve collected over the years (for some reason, I really like to buy bowls) – charity shop. The sheets that have traveled with me since my early summer camp days – tossed.

 

I’m down to the barest minimum now. I’m not actually sure where I’ll be living. I am planning to be a bit of a vagabond for a while. I have been dreading the process of moving for so long, and yet, now that it’s here, I’ve never felt like I’ve had more!

I’m so excited to live my life without regard to money or acquisition or position. I ready to do things, not have them (although I may never really break the shoe shopping habit). Now if I can just figure out how to sort through the people in my life, so I’m only left with the most positive of them….

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London Calling

All of the UK was abuzz last weekend as they celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne. You’d think they’d be tired of big showy parties, what with the Royal Wedding just a year ago and the Olympics right around the corner, but no. Any excuse for a good time. And that makes London my kind of gal. 

The 90s documentary Paris Was a Woman, highlighted the community of female artists, writers, and Bohemians who settled in Paris between the world wars. It was a giddy time and one we still romanticize regularly (Midnight in Paris anyone?). But Paris today? I think she’s a bit more like the beautiful and popular, if somewhat shallow, cheerleader than the moody art student. It’s easy to love her – everyone does – and she knows it. We feel special in declaring our love for her, but really, we know we’re just one of the many. She’ll never love us back the way we love her, but we like to convince ourselves that somehow our relationship with her is different. That we understand her in ways that others don’t. We’re all the same when it comes to Paris.  
 
There are the lean, healthy athletes Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and their teammates from around Scandinavia. They are beautiful, pure, and somewhat untouchable. They don’t litter or smoke or linger in their cars. We admire them, but ultimately, they’re a bit cold and aren’t always that much fun.

Then there’s party-girl Amsterdam. All the guys love her and she loves them back. She’s great for when we’re feeling beat up and rejected by Paris, but she never really give her the respect she deserves.
 
Berlin career-minded and driven; Munich sure can hold her beer; Vienna is cultured and elegant; Barcelona is loud and festive and fun; Rome is full-bodied and passionate.

But London. London is the rebellious kid who dyes her hair pink but has tea with her gran every Sunday. She doesn’t care if you think she’s tacky, she knows you’re going to have fun at her party and she’s throwing it her way. Everyone is welcome and everyone is taken care of. The orchestra will play alongside indie rockers; the entire country is invited to a national picnic; and sunny good cheer is everywhere despite gloomy weather.

Sure, she’s got issues. And lots of people think she’s stuck in the past. But when it comes to making sure everyone has a jolly good time, no one does it better than London!

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I Feel Pretty

I learned a new word recently. And a new way for women to ornament themselves. Vajazzling. Vajazzling is a lot like bedazzling, the diy design craze from the 70s which recently had an ironic hipster return to favor, in which sparkly beads are used to adorn blue jeans, t-shirts, or any number of items of clothing. Although in the case of vajazzling it’s not clothing we’re talking about adorning. It’s the V. Of course, it also requires a blank canvas, so before the sparkles are added, using, from what I understand, a type of hot glue, the area is cleared of its natural decoration with some hot wax.

I’ve not actually vajazzled myself, and I do had a bit of morbid curiosity about doing it, but I’m guessing that if penazalling ever takes off, most of the men I know will not be partaking in it.

It all gotten me thinking about the lengths we go through, men and women, to assert our identity and how much of it is for us, how much is for our partners, and how much is for the many, many people we encounter in our lives and how we want them to perceive us.

As we women decorate ourselves in the many ways we do – shaving, piercing, painting, dying, perfuming and the like – do we see  ourselves as more feminine than those who walk through their days in a slightly more au natural state? Do men see us that way? Do we actually feel more feminine? And if so, then are we less feminist?

And for men, do they get less masculine as they engage in the same activities? Is it less masculine to want to smell good, if not necessarily like their grandmother’s linen drawers? How far can one take “manscaping” before feeling like less of men? Or before we see them as such?

Why is it that for women, the less we do to ourselves, the less womanly we seem, while for men, it’s the opposite – the more than do to themselves, the less manly they seem.

Of course, it would be great if we lived in a world in which we could walk out of the house in any condition that the morning inspired in us, but society dictates a certain baseline to our presentations.

Still, for me, nothing is more attractive than a person who knows who they are and shows that person to the world. So, ladies  go ahead and turn your sacred space into a disco ball or let it grow into a tropical rainforest, but do it because you want to, not because you think its what anyone else wants.

And guys – we like you be both a man we believe can fix the car or cut down a tree, but also one without excess nose hair.

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Instagramish Photo-a-Day May 10: A Favorite Word

Sam’s favorite word is one we should all take to heart:

Taryn has chosen the word for its meaning:

Kora’s favorite word is one we say a lot in our office (and something it looks like Sam could use based on the photo above)- LATTE:

 

My favorite word is VELVET. Say it. Velvet. Saying it is like touching it. Velvet. I love it.

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Instagramish Photo-a-Day May 9: Something you do every day

As much as I wanted to put today’s press conference down as something I do everyday, I was dissuaded by Sam, Taryn, and Kora who said that it would be bad blog karma. So I shall admit that one thing I do every day is check the blog during my morning coffee: Kora might be the healthiest among us and she starts every day with the most important meal:

 Taryn spends much of every day engaging with words. And her keyboard:

Every day, as he walks to work, Sam passes by this bit of inspiration:

Tomorrow’s theme: A favorite word!

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