Engaging in conversations about street harassment on Twitter is like saying that reluctant “Hello” back to a strange man who says “Hi!” on the street: sometimes it’s fine, but mostly it just means he latches on and follows you, yelling, for the next five blocks, and you never know which it will be until it’s happening.
Women don’t owe men their attention, on the street, on the subway, or on Twitter…
… but Twitter has a block button.
There are a lot of things true love is, and here are just two of them:
True love is sending your exhausted husband home from the hospital overnight because there’s no sense in both of you going without sleep, and never regretting it during the long, lonely, sleepless night.
And true love is sitting in that rumpled hospital bed in the faint light of morning, hours before he could possibly be planning to return, hearing distant footsteps two corridors away, and knowing those are his footsteps, coming straight to your room.
In which my husband improves upon the work of John Legend, Bruno Mars, and One Direction:
The Fella: You’re beautiful.
me, around a mouthful of ham and bread: I’m full of ham sandwich is what I am.
The Fella: That’s what makes you beautiful.
Let’s hear the song about that.
My beautiful, sleek MacBook Air is really and truly dead, and I would like to memorialize my fallen friend.
If that sounds over-emotional, I can understand. But it was a gift from The Fella, who saved up for a whole year to surprise me with it. It was both a huge (expensive) treat and a symbol of faith in my writing. He knew that I needed my own computer, not the one we shared for years, and when I could not even afford to dream of it, he made it happen.
No longer having to share a computer was, for me, the modern equivalent of Virginia Woolf’s “a room of one’s own” — it gave me all the breadth and time I needed to grow as a writer, to value my own work as much as my husband’s (paying) writing, and to let my instincts and impulses move me to write more than my (and his) schedule.
On that MacBook, I wrote my first published article. On that MacBook, I stored my first paying contracts and received my first money for writing. On that MacBook, I earned my first income in several years. On that MacBook, I learned how to edit photos to accompany my first published recipes. On that MacBook, I applied for a dream job, a job so far beyond my then-current hopes that I assumed I was applying just for practice, and on that MacBook, I learned to my astonishment that I got it.
That MacBook gave me freedom and hope and opportunity. I am so grateful for it. I know it’s just a hunk of metal and plastic and circuits, and now that’s all it will ever be, but it was also a little box of dreams. And I made them come true.
The family was gathering for Thanksgiving, oh so many years ago, when my beloved elderly aunt called from Florida. Her long-planned flight to join us was cancelled in deference to a storm and she didn’t see the sense in trying to reschedule; she’d stay safely home raise a glass to us on the day.
My little niece L. burst out “But what about her turkey?” She didn’t mean a plate overflowing with meat and gravy and stuffing. She meant a piece of paper on which L. had traced out her hand, then lavishly illustrated it in marker, adding feet and feathers and a landscape of spiky green grass and, incongruously, a wide-brimmed cockel hat with shiny buckle jauntily posed on the turkey’s head. She’d drawn one for each of the diners expected on Thursday and written their names on each picture.
“We’ll mail it to her,” the grown-ups assured her. And on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my father (L.’s grandfather) and I went out to do a last errand and took L. with us. We stopped at a mailbox and held L.’s hand as she strained up to drop the stamped envelope into the box.
“Aunt P. will love getting this, L.,” I murmured.
“Yeah?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah. It was sweet of you to draw it for her, and to send it to her. It will be such a good surprise!”
“Oh, yeah! Imagine her opening her mailbox to find that envelope in it, and opening it to see your picture! She’ll be so touched you thought of her.”
L. screwed up her face in serious thought, picturing Aunt P. at some imagined mailbox. Then her eyes lit up. “Will she CRY?!?”
Over smothered laughter (and not-so-smothered laughter from my father, ahead of us), I said “… I think she might, a little bit.”
I’ve been telling this story, now and again, for a dozen years – because L.’s question gets to the heart of what we are often asking ourselves about gestures of kindness and consideration. Is this a big gesture? Is this a small gesture? Will it make a mark in the heart of the beloved? How can we know what word or gesture makes a difference until it does – or it doesn’t?
Aunt P. is gone. L. is a high-spirited, talented young woman at a college halfway across the country from her family. And I am a writer who just finished a film essay about Mother’s Day – a film essay that made me tear up a bit when I wrote it, and again when I proof-read it.
And I understand L.’s question better than ever. Because when I wiped away the trickle of tears, I thought with great satisfaction “Will this make them CRY?” and “Yeah, I think it will.”
My latest trips down the wiki-hole:
And, though I don’t remember precisely the path, it’s no surprise that I refreshed my memory of the dancing plague that afflicted 16th century Strasbourg.
But I still don’t remember what process led me to the Dugong hypothesis for the origin of the word tabernacle.
D: [lounging across the room] You look very pretty.
E: [crouched cross-legged behind her laptop, which sits atop a table] … you can see me?
D: Yes, I can see your legs and a portion of your crotchal region.
E: [pointing] this part?
D: Yes, and now a knuckle.
The #1 piece of advice I give to nieces & nephews: HEY KIDS, only date people who like you and whom you like, who are nice to you and to whom you can be nice.
You’d think it would be obvious, but it really, really isn’t, especially when you’re young. To young people schooled in the brand of romance sold in songs and movies, drama and acrimony can seem like the inevitable companion to romance. Drama and acrimony can seem like the definition of romance.
But they aren’t. At least, they don’t have to be. Only date people who treat you well, whom you can treat well, and only date people you genuinely like. It’s simple, obvious advice, and it needs to be said a lot more than it is.
We join this conversation in progress:
The Fella: Is there anything I can do to help?
Elsa: Naw, I’m fine, just trying to write [thing], get it sorted out in my head. There’s no way to help.
The Fella: Would some chocolate help?
Elsa: … yeeeeeeEEEEEESSSSS. [as he walks to the kitchen] Was I making an “I wish I had chocolate” face? Do I have an “I wish I had chocolate” face? … is that just my face?
The Fella: Your face has elements of that in it, yes.