Entries in Womankind (99)

Tuesday
Oct142014

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Mrs. G. sat down six hours ago to write a long overdue update of her life in the margins. September was a trying, uphill month for a number of reasons she is incapable of explaining with any clarity. And should she? Of course she should, because who wants to miss a minute of her ongoing, continually unfolding Lifetime drama: Stout Middle-Aged Woman Searching for Meaning in the Walgreens Candy Aisle

That's right. Mrs. G. lives at the corner of happy and healthy. Just not in September.

It all started with Algebra, hours and hours of tackling it head on, day after day. Mrs. G. couldn't get it because she never got it. Her last required math class was in high school, taught by a man, Dan Hedgeman, who was counting the months until he was eligible for retirement, Mr. Hedgeman smelled like old coffee and anguish. He frequently referenced ships that didn't come in and warned his students to "Just wait, you'll see."

Mrs. G. finally saw...she needed a tutor. The battle continues. Mrs. G. is winning.

Algebra was followed by family visits and a stomach issue that required consistent vomiting for a couple of weeks. She'll spare you the details but Mrs. G. feels the need to share that her visit to a gastroenterologist further compromised her lifelong commitment to the sanctity of her ass. When she called Mr. G. to report the security breach, he told her Sanctity of My Ass should be the title of her first novel. She hung up on him. He called her back and asked her if she had just hung up on him. She assured him she hadn't, that he must not have heard her say goodbye. It's these kinds of games that keep their love alive.

In between throwing up and solving for x, Mrs. G. would sit down and try to write, but she kept coming up empty, so empty she started to question her ability to write, to even discern good writing. She felt like a fraud. She was embarrassed. Rather than pouring a glass of ginger ale and calling it a day, Mrs. G. shut her laptop and didn't open it up until yesterday when her daughter called and told Mrs. G. that someone had contacted her to see if everything was ok.

Everything is ok. Thank you for asking. Mrs. G. just needed to take a break...a long ass break. Her laptop sat on the dining room table, untouched, for nearly thirty days. This is odd to admit but Mrs. G. was wary of it. She would walk by and avoid looking at it. There was a peculiar stand off that Mrs. G. is unable to clearly explain. Like her, the whole deal was weird. Particularly since September is typically her favorite month of the year. October, though, is looking a-ok.

There you have it in 521 words. Mrs. G. intended to just quietly slide back in with no fanfare because she hates writing slushy accounts of her good, little, typical life. There are so many bigger fish to fry. Truly.

Fair is fair. How was your September?

Thursday
Jul242014

the friend with the GREAT sense of humor...you know, the funny one

Mrs. G. has always been skeptical of popularity, a bit cagey of it's often shallow, slippery nature. It makes her skittish. Maybe it's because she spent her youth on its periphery. While popularity was her desired bright lights and big city destination, Mrs. G. resided squarely in the suburb of close but no cigar. She wasn't unpopular; she was just there...amiable, no trouble, perfectly fine. She was always invited to the party, but she didn't, you know, own it. She stood in the corner with her friend Karen nursing a Bartles and James wine cooler and smoking a clove cigarette. She was worldly though she lived in teeny Tigard, Oregon.

 

When she went to high school, Mrs. G. had a decent time. She had plenty of friends—she ran cross country and was on the speech team. She was a brain, but she was also good-natured and approachable. It's true Mrs. G. had sensational hair, but she was short and stocky and wore fairly thick glasses. She tried contacts but she accidentally swallowed them in a movie theater and her mom wouldn't buy her another pair because money doesn't grow on trees you know, or fall from the sky ferchristssake.  Mrs. G.  wasn't deferential. She was cute enough but not hot...as in hot hot if you know what she is saying... and you do. She was luke warm, fair to middling. It didn't take her long to figure out that she needed to be funny. She needed to be charming and share her impeccable biology notes, so that the hot hot people would occasionally invite her out with them...for entertainment purposes. She could make them laugh while they sat around drinking Big Gulps and looking beautiful. She was the nonthreatening friend.


 

One of the advantages of being a girl with the good personality in high school is that Mrs. G. had no trouble getting dates. She was a guaranteed good time—gracious and grateful, drama free. If there was a dance, Mrs. G. was there with one of her many guy friends. Dancing. Laughing. Her dates were engaging, perfect gentlemen. They gave her frothy pink wrist corsages and helped her fluff up her hair when the humidity of the dance floor made it droop. Her dates were unusually supportive of her commitment to save herself for marriage and often went shopping with her to pick out the perfect dress and matching heels. They were kind and respectful and, Mrs. G. found out a few years later to her genuine, twenty-four carat surprise, gay. Gay gay. She's not sure who was deeper in the closet, likely her since she was genuinely clueless. Mrs. G. slowly came to realize that she might have been the most popular date of the gays in her high school. And to make matters a little more nonsensical, she didn't find out her homecoming and prom dates were gay until she ran into them after college and asked after their girlfriends. Columbo she's not. Mrs. G. often wonders if they took numbers—sorry pal, you had her for the Spring Fling...she's mine for Tolo. And while it's true that she didn't brush up against love until later in college, she also didn't come home disappointed or pregnant. Or with chlymidia. 

 

flat-tire-770803

Mrs. G. never really felt bad that she wasn't hot hot. She is a genuine believer in the American Dream and making the most of what you've got—she didn't sit around whining or wishing for longer legs or cheekbones...until she got a flat tire in Northeast Portland in 1986. She pulled her car over to the side of the road and hoofed it to a phone booth to call her friend Beth. Beth said she was on her way, so Mrs. G. hoofed it back, leaned against the hood of her car and watched the rush hour traffic go by—car after car after car. Beth showed up a short while later. She had barely pulled her six footed, blue eyed, creamy skinned, down-to-the-waist blonde haired body out of her car and walked six steps toward Mrs. G. before a guy in a red Jeep pulled over and jumped out to offer his assistance.

Mrs. G, who had been standing on the side of the road for over thirty minutes, watched this scene unfold in slow motion and realized that there was only one thing she could do:

be funnier.

Wednesday
Jul022014

The Women's Colony

It has come to Mrs. G's attention that many new readers (this was published nearly seven years ago) have not read this post. Mrs. G. felt compelled to repeat it because you can't truly understand her (or this blog and much of its lingo) without knowing about the Colony, a concept that when exercised daily is likely as effective as any antidepressant on the market. Mrs. G. texted her son a few days ago asking him to bring home some milk, toilet paper and Fanta. Autocorrect morphed Fanta into fantasy. Mrs. G's son called her and said, "Mom, I can buy you a lot of things, but fantasies aren't one of them. QFC doesn't sell the Women's Colony." He brought home grape Fanta, which on the right day can fulfill a fantasy, but it just doesn't have the staying power. Mrs. G. has a dream...and this is it.

P.S. Mrs. G. is currently writing a novel with this plot so if you steal the idea, she will hunt you down and kill you. It just so happens she knows a few women who would help her move and hide the body. You've been warned.

 

The Women's Colony

Many years ago, Mrs. G. and her beloved friend Faye showed up at the same mom's group. They connected instantly, and it didn't take them long to ditch the group (as Mrs. G. recalls many in the group were overly invested in and vocal about just how important they were prior to having children) in favor of a more intimate connection. Mrs. G's three-year-old-daughter adored Faye's three-year-old son, and Mrs. G. grooved on Faye -- the years they spent together are some of Mrs. G's most cherished. While Mrs. G. is lucky to have made many dear friends since she and Faye moved to opposite ends of the country, there has never been another friend who Mrs. G. has truly felt got her the way Faye did. And even though Mrs. G. hasn't seen Faye in ten years, she holds Faye in the nook of her heart that she reserves for those rare people who offer unconditional friendship, unconditional love. In other words, if Faye ever flipped her lid and accidentally committed a premeditated murder, Mrs. G. would not only help her move the body, but store it in her freezer until the coast was clear.

During their many days and months of hard core mothering, birthing of additional babies, sapped marriages and overall weariness, they would frequently talk about the Women's Colony they would retire to when the kids were grown, and the husbands were gone. Just exactly how the husbands would be gone wasn't examined at any length. The fantasy was more about the sanctity of a female refuge for older, tired women who needed some sort of estrogen infused utopia. When times were tough, they would simply utter Women's Colony and nerves would ebb, hope would rally, dinner would make it to the table, children would be bathed, bedtime stories would be read, and, finally, wine bottles would be drained.

The Women's Colony would be in some out of the way place, some little slice of paradise that was off the grid and extremely difficult to access. Men would find it particularly difficult to locate because, without a doubt, they would be required to stop and ask for directions. Like that's going to happen.

 

 

It would be a place where women could come to spend their post mothering/wifing/working woman years to live completely as themselves. The selfish pursuit of individual desire and authenticity would be encouraged and allowed -- guilt free and without any emotional cost. No scales, no mirrors, fat asses, cellulite, age spots, chin hairs, crows feet and bras optional. For those reluctant to cut all ties with their heterosexual needs, husbands and boy toys gentleman friends could be bussed in on Thursdays and Sundays for conversation and such. Appreciative children, grandchildren and emotionally stable relatives could come to visit every other Saturday and all major holidays.
 

This Women's Colony would not be any sort of Hee-Haw existence. No one would have to live on a school bus or make hemp hammocks to support her diet of quinoa and tempeh.

 

Each woman would have an entire floor of a house like this...

 

or this...

 

or this.

 

Faye and Mrs. G. felt strongly that there should be a row of connected rocking chairs on the front porches of the various houses, and each evening, it would be one woman's responsibility to do the rocking. The rest of the women would just sit there and sip cosmos chill.


There would need to be a butler to overlook the running of the house and the division of labor that would not involve any of the women.

 

After years of full calendars and the juggling the lives of others, every woman's to do list would basically be nothing, nothing and nothing. For those with a need to be productive, they would be free do whatever the hell they wanted. There would be no pairing of socks or locating anything for anybody.
 
 

 

In the Women's Colony, bathrooms would be sanctuaries of solace and joy. No bathtub or toilet scrubbing or dealing with hairs whose origins are too disturbing to contemplate.

 

There would be creative spaces for each woman: writing and pottery studios and crafting spaces and dark rooms.

 

Communal dinners would be optional.

But this guy would be the Colony's personal chef. We'll get to the maid and dishwasher momentarily. Bourdain doesn't do dishes.

Fresh organic vegetables,fruits and herbs would be grown right on the property

 

And, of course, a full-time gardener would be on site.

 

Oh, and there would be flowers...fields and fields of flowers.

 

Despite the Colony not having an in-ground pool, a pool boy would be available for serving cocktails, rubbing in sunscreen and gratuitous eye candy.

 

There would be no no pool, because the ocean would be just a stone's throw away from everyone's houses.

 

As mentioned earlier, members of the Women's Colony would have no mandatory chores. Those would be completed by the Colony's full-time maid.

 

Yes, another pristine girl's bathroom. Mrs. G. is willing to admit that the concept of a man-free bathroom was the cornerstone of her Women's Colony fantasy.

 

Despite the Colony's rural setting, regular house calls would be made by a prominent physician.

 

And this would be Susan Carlin's personal art studio. Mrs. G. will be disappointed if Susan, her daughter, Professor J, and their dogs don't plan on becoming charter members.

There would be a music room with a roaring fireplace.

 

And a yoga/meditation space amongst the luscious trees.

 

And, of course, a library overflowing with books and flanked by overstuffed chairs.

 

Please forgive Mrs. G's obsessive need to keep returning to the clean bathroom.

 

In recognition that men need to pee too, an outhouse would be provided. Toilet paper at no extra charge.

All animals welcome.

 

No shortage of spaces to be alone and spy on the gardener read a good book.

 

Mrs. G. would assume the responsibility of taking care of the laundry, so it wouldn't take too long before clothing became optional.

 

Rocking chairs, gardens, beach front property, no chores, clean bathrooms, gourmet food, conjugal visits, hot servants...paradise, people. Female paradise. And in the meantime, when the boss is bitching, the kids are mouthy, the spouse is cranky, the relatives keep reminding you of all the things you could do better, take a deep breath and exhale Women's Colony...Women's Colony.


But with better hair. Who's in?

 

Tuesday
Feb112014

the answer would be a gentle no, because mrs. g. does understand his appeal

Mrs. G. received four emails (Portland, Tulsa, Charlottesville and Knoxville) from Derfs over the weekend letting her know that they had made Mr. G's pasta sauce and it was indeed as delicious as she said. One sweetheart sent a photo of her bubbling sauce right after, as she said, the "chicken livers had landed." Mr. G. was flattered.

But Mrs. G. received a fifth email today that we are going to have to discuss because, well, because Mrs. G. thinks you will understand why.

Dear Mrs. G,

I just wanted to let you know how lucky you are to have a husband like Mr. G! I made his sauce on Saturday night and it was so good that I can't help but throw out the following proposal. You have mentioned that Mr. G. hasn't cleaned a bathroom in decades and doesn't really do household chores of any kind. I love cleaning bathrooms and I would be willing to assume all household chores if he would cook for me nightly. I know this would mean he has to move to the Northeast, but do you think you could spare him for this fellow Derf? Maybe even just every month? My love for Mr. G. is purely platonic and culinary inspired as I am in a a very serious imaginary relationship with Damian Lewis.

I look foward to hearing from you :) :) :)

V.

 

Dear V,

I appreciate your straight-forward, forthright approach to possibly acquiring my husband. I'm going to have to decline your offer because I really like him, and, damn woman, I gave you the coveted recipe. Have Damian Lewis make it for you. I kid, because I think you are sweet even though you want to exploit my man in the kitchen. I'm not going to share this exchange with him because, though he loves me, the allure of no chores might cause him to slip out in the night with his chicken livers and never look back. Like I'm going to let that happen -- just to be safe I have tied a bell to our bedroom doorknob in case he gets any ideas. 

All My Best-ish,

Mrs. G.

Thursday
Jan162014

Ethno-frantic

 

Many years ago, Mrs. G. and her friend Ann signed up for an ethnocentric dance class at a small studio in Seattle. They had no dancing history together so agreeing to participate in this activity was near heroic in Mrs. G's mind. The last person who had seen her dance was Mr. G. -- 14 years earlier, both of them loose limbed from lust love and Tanqueray martinis. When it comes Mrs. G's dancing, Mr. G's fresh devotion undoubtedly blinded him to the spectacle. Unlike the suggestion of inspirational posters in every therapist's office in America, Mrs. G. wishes she could dance like nobody is watching. But people watch. They can't help it. Mrs. G's style is the whitest white bread with an unpredictable break in to the Swim. It's well intentioned but stilted and, honestly, distressing.  

So she was nervous when she picked up Ann to drive to class. Mrs. G. felt vulnerable but determined to shift their friendship to a deeper level -- the level of affirmed affection and lifelong loyalty known as potential humiliation. Ann, a good dancer (Mrs. G. had admired her several times from the edge of the dance floor), was cool, even. No sweat, Mrs. G. thought, no sweat

But sweating commenced when she and Ann walked into the class in jogging pants, ratty t-shirts and running shoes only to be faced with a somewhat threatening number of women in leotards and dainty little, Mrs. G. isn't sure what they're called, so she'll call them dancing skirts for small asses, the short flowy kind usually paired with ballet slippers and messy chignons. It looked like two northwestern hillbillies had crashed the Bolshoi. Both clearly nervous and avoiding direct eye contact with anyone, including each other, slipped off their shoes and took their place in one of the four long lines of lithe women. She can't speak for Ann, but Mrs. G. knew she was up a creek. No paddle.

Within seconds of the stretch warm-up, the pounding of bong drums heated up and the teacher began swinging her hips and waving her arms like this...

It only got worse from there. Mrs. G. and Ann were frantically running and jumping and twirling diagonally across the dance floor. Mrs. G. is reluctant to say this for obvious reasons, but Ann looked as stupid as she did. They stood out in the crowd, which isn't always the desired outcome when you are uncontrollably shaking your butt against your will.

When the class finally ended, she and Ann put their running shoes back on (again avoiding eye contact, even with each other) and headed out the door to a bakery a block down the street. They didn't say a word until they sat down at a table with their chocolate croissants and decaf. They were at a friendship standstill -- unsure if the other liked the class, not wanting to torpedo her joy or acknowledge that the relationship would have to end if she did because come on.

"Whew," said Mrs. G, "that was an interesting class."

"It was," said Amy. The benovolent standstill continued.

"I'm not really sure what to say," Mrs. G. said, inching closer toward the truth.

"Please don't make me ever come back," said Ann.

And with that, the friendship was cemented.

 

Monday
Jan132014

Starfish Throwers Wanted by Jenn Q.

Jenn asked me last night to help spread the word and 1) I would do anything for Jenn and 2) putting it here is the best possible way for me to do that. Eating disorders are deadly serious  Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, so calling all Starfish -- help some fellow humans out. You can read more of Jenn here.

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 1.35.04 PM

When the PITA moms started (here's some background on my blog and on FB if you need it; Laura Collins, co-author with Charlotte Bevan of Charlotte's Helixfame, of the fabulous eating disorder primer, Throwing Starfish Across the Sea, has some nice things to say about us) we, along with Jenny, always knew it was the beginning of a magical happening destined to help not just Jenny, but others who struggle with eating disorders and woefully inadequate access to services.

As I wrote the above paragraph and was doing the linking, I came across the news that Charlotte is in the last days of her fight against cancer. It seems almost kismet that on this day I should be asking YOU to consider become starfish thrower in Charlotte's mold.

Doing re-feeding and meal support for a person with an eating disorder is a teachable, coachable skill. If you have successfuly re-fed, using FBT/Maudsley methods, you have worked damn hard to aquire that skill. It's like you've been through the SEAL program of parenting. The knowledge and skill you have gained is a gift--a gift that can help save someone's life as surely as donating an organ would.

You know when people say "If my tragedy can help even one other family . . .?" This is a chance to give that help. Or maybe there was a time when you made some promises to God about helping others if you could just get through this. You can keep that promise. Maybe you got great treatment (as was our case) and you feel like you need to pay it forward.

Where am I going with all this flattery and gentle coercion?

The PITA moms need help throwing a starfish. Gretchen is a 21-year old young woman in Canada who struggles with anorexia. Due to an administrative error, a bed that was supposed to open for her at a treatment center in Toronto won't happen until the spring. She is very sick, but also very much wants recovery and has checked herself into a psychiatric hospital. The problem is that this hospital, as is true of most psych hospitals, doesn't know how to handle eating disorders. She's getting worse by the day.

Gretchen's mother, Janet, mother reached out to Lisa, one of the PITA moms, and because we are clearly both passionate, compassionate, and occassionally a wee bit nuts, we almost immediately came up with an idea of how to help.

Provide Skype meal support for her (in the hospital and then at home), using volunteer moms just like us (we'd do it, but Jenny and fighting Amerigroup have us pretty busy right now). The time committment (if we get 12 moms which is our ideal number) would be 30-60 minutes once a day, every other day. Mom Janet will get the food piece into place on-the-ground. Lisa would administrate, organize and train the group (so much easier than you would think thanks to Facebook). We'd love to have moms from around the globe as that helps cover all times without disrupting lives. Our timeline for continuuing this (at home once she is out of hospital) is the two to three months until she gets into a program.

I know this sounds crazy--and it is--but it is also amazing and magical and a gift of love and wouldn't you want someone to help your child like this?

All that is left is to ask you to email if you are interested at jdeniseouellette@gmail.com or friend me on FB (Jennifer Denise Taunton Ouellette) and message me.

Time committment: 1 hour every other day for a few months . . . Reward? Helping save a life . . . Value? Priceless.

 

P.S. If your excuse is you don't Skype, neither did I! If it's because you don't use FB, that's easy to solve! If it's because you're worried you will fall in love with Gretchen as we did Jenny, I say, it's worth it!

Monday
Jan062014

A Mrs. G. Social Inquiry

Author Wally Lamb asked an interesting question on Facebook yesterday that Mrs. G. immediately thought she should share here.

If they were to carve out a Mt Rushmore with women's profiles, who would you choose?

Interesting thought, right? What do you think?

Tuesday
Dec102013

The Helpline (by Clara B.)

helpline

Dear Clara B,

I am dating a man who recently suggested that my Lady Garden grooming practices weren't up to his standards...

Click to read more ...