Be Quiet, Kids, I’m Working!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It has been obsessively busy around the house these last few weeks. After taking a nine-year sabbatical to be a stay at home mother, I have started working again from my home. This wasn’t what I had in mind. I was hoping to get dressed up, put make-up on and go to an office. Not only would I not be faced with our family’s daily clutter but I imagined having an adoring male harem admire me around a water cooler. For the these past years I have been surrounded by almost entirely by women-other stay at home mothers whose husbands all work such ridiculous hours that they are never home. Sometimes I imagine that we are almost like the whaling wives who watched their men go off to sea for months at a time.

Fifteen years ago, I did the mommy track telecommuting thing for 8 years while I watched my husband leapfrog me on the career ladder. At the time, we had earning parity. We made the choice for me to stay home for a variety of factors: one of which had to do with my obsessive-ness over my child’s well being from my own less than positive experience with caretakers and my desire to breast feed on demand.

My mother worked and was an excellent role model for me but I wanted my child to have the things that I did not have. No mean babysitters, playdates with school friends and a safe neighborhood to grow up in. However, I realized that my children were not getting a very important thing-to me: A working mother as a role model. I feared that they were in danger of developing a sense of entitlement about our rich material life. Because they did not actually see any of us ‘working’, they had no concept of what it is to work in an office, kiss someone’s ass , compromise your beliefs…a little… clients are right after all.

They would not be prepared for the new world of short-term job stints and the need to change careers on a dime. Dad works all the time. But that is “away” in some abstract office that they visit only occasionally when we all come in to watch him work over the weekend. He has been employed by the same company for years and has survived five mergers. I call him the cockroach. No one really has job security. We now have to create our work.

When children grow up with a family business around them as did farmers, craftsmen and store owners, everyone had to chip in to make the business a success. My father recalls seeing his mother work in the basement making coils for use in submarines during World War II. It was his only memory of her doing work that did not involve cleaning, cooking and diapers. How would my children ever know what it is to sell themselves? Could they ever pull themselves up by their boots straps the way that I have?

Now that I have started to work, I allow my children to be involved in the process. They know that they have to be quiet when I make phone calls. Some of my calls involve difficult cold calling and tons of rejection. My fifteen year old daughter will listen and pat my back after a particularly hard one.  I have let her take first stab on logo designs and she has helped me to set up our company’s website. From this experience, she has decided that she does not want to be a graphic artist and I have learned that sometimes it is better not to get family involved. However, through the process, we are all learning to pitch in to make a go of it. My daughter has offered to work babysitting duties into the week so that I can have my business meetings. In the end, I feel my children will be better prepared for the world of work and the issues of balance, self discipline and the knowledge that they can create their own futures.

Previously published on Open Salon March 2, 2011

The Man Who Will Get to Have My Heart

Lauras Heart

I was terrified driving to the cardiologist. My friend had checked out his credentials on line the night before. She even did a tarot card reading. This man, who I was about to meet, was going to have a long happy relationship with me and/or become my husband. He was my second opinion. The first Electrophysiology expert was dying to get into my heart to do an ablation. He mentioned that they could even put in a pacemaker if they had to burn out too much of my heart (by mistake?). The goal was to  fix an arrhythmia to keep my heart from beating too quickly (up to a rate of 280 beats per minute) causing me intermittent unpredictable  temporary loss of vision and sometimes loss of consciousness.

My new doctor was adorable. He did not mind me rummaging through his shavers when he first walked in. I told him that he kept me waiting so long I figured that I would shave my legs. I also showed him a picture that my friend just sent me on my I phone. He was gracious and agreed that she was very beautiful ( well …she was on a motorcycle and had a great push up bra) However, I could tell he was much more interested in me and my heart. We made each other laugh. I explained that I could never have anyone near my groin (point of insertion for wires) that was much younger than I was. He quickly told me that he was 47. I am 48.  He also explained that he was not going to jump to burn my heart. He was no “cowboy” He was going to do it the way they taught him at Harvard (that was his cute way of letting me know that he was qualified to work with me).  It was like a first date. When he listened to my heart, I noticed the sweet little stray hairs on the top of his bald head. He had more tests to do. He was going to get to know me slowly and safely.

When I was leaving the office the receptionist and I mocked him for calling me “young lady”. He took it in stride. He mentioned that I was one of the youngest women to come into his office. Behind me was a feisty woman her mid 70s. She told me that the doctors had given her a heart transplant. I asked her if she received memories of the person who had owned the heart. She answered “yes”. When the heart was placed in her body, she started looking at men…all men. Her husband laughed. She said when she discussed it with the heart donor’s mother the mother said “that is my girl.”

You see I still believe that the heart is mysterious and is much more than any other organ. I can dislike dentists, gynecologists, and GPs and still use them if I know they are good doctors. However, the man (and many of them do seem to be men) that I let touch my heart will have to be special.

Previously Published on Open Salon under Snarkychaser  September 9, 2011

Smelly Girl

 

woman stretching
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

 

If only I had consulted the internet before today. There are so many posts on how to tell someone they smell. For months there has been a smelly au pair at my gym. I have tried to ignore it but I can’t. Whenever I see this poor girl anywhere in town, I have to fight the urge to gag.

Unfortunately the cardio room of my local Y is small. It is always a little smelly but when this cute little foreign girl gets on the elliptical machine, her body heats up and the room soon reeks of onions, garlic and stale sweat from the day before. My sense of smell is superior to most others. When I was pregnant, I was able to detect small gas leaks in my house were undetectable to our local electric company without special machinery. Perhaps I can chalk it to hormones. A friend of mine recently noticed that she was also sensitive in our heightened premenopausal state and could even tell when her executive assistant was menstruating.

I have discussed this smell problem to a friend- who is staff at the Y- but I realize that it is so awkward many people won’t say anything. The policy is that a director of the same sex must approach the person. However, months have gone by and the girl still smells. She also wears the same T shirt most days, so that may be the problem. I have noticed that many college boys and divorced men have a habit of wearing their gym clothes more than once. The result is the unmistakable fermenting odor of day or week old sweat that is familiar to any high school athlete.

Earthy smells are fine with me. I love men to have a scent. My husband does not ever smell stinky but rather like fast food french fries and the stinkiest he gets is where he smells like slightly rancid fries- but still yummy enough to eat. I love the raw smell of men and realize that it is one of my key indicators for arousal. Fresh sweat is sexy, however, old sweat is not.

Of course women smell too. You only have to go into a stall of a public bathroom to smell the day old aroma of the woman’s groin that peed minutes before. We produce so much liquid, this is why a woman’s own vaginal juices make the best perfume to attract the opposite sex; however, my smelly au pair is not sexy to me and I am now forced to change my machine when she approaches. Sometimes I do it preemptively, not only to get away from the smell, but so that the other gym members don’t mistake me as the offender.

However, today, I ran into another au pair who works out in the weight room. I gathered up my courage to speak to him about his fellow country woman. This man is so sweet and I knew he could help me break it to her gently so that she would not be alienated by her fellows nor have her feelings hurt. I suggested that he mention a crazy woman who lifts with him that was touting the health benefits of using a little hand sanitizer under the arms before her work out. It is mostly alcohol based and will not interfere with the body’s natural mechanisms the way that antiperspirants do. Even if she does not follow-up on this advice, I have no doubt that the other guys who were ease dropping on our conversation will.

 

 

Previously Published on Open Salon May 23 2012 under Snarkychaser

My Ancient Roman Rings

 

grayscale photo of person with rings and tattoos
Photo by Nikolay Bondarev on Pexels.com

Seven years ago I bought some ancient bronze Roman rings from a little antique shop in Red Bank, NJ. The rings had been dug up in Bulgaria and were dated 1st century. I love these rings and wear them all the time. They have a green patina and are so worn that it looks as if I am wearing something that my plumber might have pulled out of our house.

Antique

Most of the women in my suburb have big diamonds on their fingers, and love to tell the stories about them to anyone who asks. No one has ever asked me about me about my rings. Perhaps they believe that I am wearing my grandfather’s rusted Boy Scout ring never imaging the history that my rings have seen.  Most likely the ring just isn’t of interest to anyone except me. Each ring only cost $20… certainly not a month’s salary. In fact, I gave a lot of them away; I thought they were so neat.

I have always had a sneaking suspicion that perhaps they were not really Ancient Roman rings. This suspicion was heightened when I came across copper rings in an Indian import store that bore many of the same markings.

Ring Copper

I was never able to find much information on the rings of Ancient Rome or of the Roman’s occupation in Bulgaria. I did once read that Roman men used signet rings as a means of identification on their written correspondence and that they wore their rings at the knuckle. They were fairly prevalent with the middle class so it might explain why they were able to find so many.

When I went to Rome and saw rings just like mine in the Vatican Museum, I reaffirmed to myself that my rings were real.  During the years, would go back to the antique store and was even more gratified to see that the vendor did not carry any more ancient Roman rings. He did not have them until this past weekend.

Rings Red

Mine are much nicer but he had some other interesting things.

 

I am seriously considering going back to get some coal from the Titanic.

 

Previously Published on Open Salon January 3, 2011

Do People Treat Straight Haired Women More Deferentially?

Medusa courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

I met my friend, who asked to be called Natalie, or maybe Donna in this post for dinner this weekend. She marveled at my perfectly straight hair. I divulged that I had just gotten a Brazilian Blowout. Natalie/Donna and I both have full thick curly hair. Natalie/Donna gets her hair blown out professionally once a week, and for half of the week it is sleek and straight and for the other half it is wild and curly. Natalie/Donna enjoys having her two different looks.

When I saw  Natalie/Donna for first time at the gym, she had her curly hair. She was very sexy and I later told her that I imagined her to be the plaything of a rich mobster.  She would go from machine to machine toting her designer bag with her head down and her curly hair covering her face. She was so slender and willowy that I was shocked when I noticed that she lifted seriously heavy weights. I also could not help but notice that all of the men that seemed to check her out while she was so oblivious.

Later,  as we became friends, I went out with her  when she had her straight hair- just blown out for the night. “Natalie/ Donna! You look like a rich socialite trophy wife now!” Well I suppose that neither of these perceptions is really true since she is extremely smart and an accomplished classical musician….oh and she was far from a trophy wife.

However, hair does make a statement. I have noticed that people have always treated me differently when I had straight neat hair. Perhaps this perception dates back to the time when I was 12 and cut my hippy long wavy hair and my class mate, a boy, said “Oh you look so much better with out all of that orangutan hair!”

My really new straight hair  gives me a “no nonsense” image. I seem much more business like and formidable (is it necessary to say that this is not my usual?)  Another friend said that my new hair makes me look thinner. How can I ever go back? What do you think? My husband suggested that I might try this experiment with bigger breasts and see if anyone treats me differently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

previously published on Open Salon under Snarkychaser January 17, 2011

Male Crying- Tool for Sex and Politics

My friend, Wendy, and me looking at prospects on Match.com-our favorite activity.

My friend Wendy recently went on an impromptu date with a man that she had been in communication with from Plenty of Fish, a dating website.  As usual, we spent several days obsessing over the date and the possibility that he would be good for his word and call her for a second date this next Saturday.

This female bonding session is one of the best parts of the date. I believe we have so much fun and release so much oxytocin from our strategic chats that it is well worth the date no matter who it is. I have decided to get some pretend boyfriends as well to add some zest to our bonding sessions. My husband, John, is a pretty tolerant guy and has agreed as long as it is pretend. Wendy really seemed to like this guy, Michael, and her anxiety about the date was not just play.

“He said he cried at ‘Marley and Me’.” Wendy said

“He told you that? That is pathetic.” I said

“No it isn’t. It’s great. I didn’t even see ‘Marley and Me’ because I was afraid I would bawl. It was too sad.” She said

“Well I didn’t see ‘Marley and Me’. I wonder if I would have cried.” I said “I don’t think I have ever seen John cry.”

“Not even when his father died? “ Wendy sounded surprised.

“No. I don’t remember him every really crying. I think he might have cried when I widened the driveway. He came home after midnight and started crying that I ruined the look of the house.”

I asked Wendy’s and my mutual male friend, Snarky, what he thought of all of this.

“Well ‘Marley and Me’ was pretty sad but you know I think that maybe this guy was just trying to uh you know.” Snarky sputtered

“What? I didn’t see the movie.” I said

“I think he was just trying to say something that would…you know that would…” Snarky was very embarrassed

“You mean you think he was trying get into her into bed?” I said “Well she only went to dinner. It did not even come up.”

Perhaps Michael was trying to impress Wendy with his sensitivity. Why is it so taboo for men to cry? I was recently with a hypnotist that recounted a story of a session with a tough ex- marine Vietnam Vet. She said his eyes started to tear during hypnosis while reliving a childhood experience. He said he was having congestion in his eyes. The hypnotist surmised that he was crying but had no idea that that is what the water was in his eyes.

Is crying used as a manipulative tactic? Yes. I think it is…often. I personally had the experience of having a politician ex lover tear up over my politics. He was an aid to a popular Democratic Senator at the time. I was a senior in a very liberal College and told him that I might rebel from my historically Democratic parents and upbringing to become a Republican. These were my rebellious college years. This man had tears, real tears, in his eyes about my decision. He shed not a tear when we broke up. I was inconsolable. Upon my graduation, he referred me to his friend in Arlen Specter’s office for a job opportunity.  I have now become much more pragmatic in my approach to politics and realize it is show business like anything else.

This is why the stories of Glenn Beck’s tears on air revolt me so. Tears of emotion like these are so easy to fabricate and seem to be disingenuous. I went to the High School of Performing Arts for Drama and am perhaps more adept at spotting the inauthentic. I do find it fascinating to watch. However, since Wendy also went to my High School, and is also a therapist, I think it is safe to say that she would have picked up on any play from her date, Michael. Who knows? We all like a fantasy.

 Glenn Beck uses Vic’s Vapor Rub to elicit tears for photo shoot.

 

Previously Published on Open Salon Under Snarkychaser August 30,2010

A Band of Gold

A friend noticed that I was not wearing my wedding ring in a photo. He noted that he used to work for a married woman who would take off her ring, and go out with girl friends to see if she still had what it took. The subject of the wearing of wedding rings spurs lots of debate and I really think that my view of the meaning of “ the ring “ has changed as I have aged. When I was younger, I did find that many men hit on me at business functions and I was sure that if I had a ring on my finger, it would be a deterrent. I recently read an article in Marie Clarie about a writer who bought a fake engagement ring to keep men at bay in the male dominated field of biotech. Perhaps this changes as we age.

The men in the weight room have become positively chatty this week. What could have changed? I never wear my wedding ring because it interferes with my handling of free weights (and other reasons better saved for another post). I have been working out with these men for two years. I have learned to keep my mouth shut and just work out. However, over the past two months, I have been more consistent in my time. I noticed that some of the guys would shyly say good morning to me. One in particular, turns bright red and stammers when he greets me or if I ask him a question about his weights. When I asked him in the parking lot if he would like to share some nuts post work out, he practically fell backwards with embarrassment. But this has all changed this week, because I started talking.

For the first time, I have mentioned my handsome husband and the guys seem to have breathed a collective sigh of relief. I now know that two of the men have wives that are as phobic about bed bugs as I am. One man’s wife just lost 30 pounds in three months. Another man’s wife refused to cover up for his friend that was cheating on his wife. Extra chattiness in men in many other situations has always been my experience when I wear my wedding ring. I believe that my ring makes me safe to approach and be flirted with. In our advanced years, very few men would want to actually leave their wives for another woman, with the financial and emotional toll that it would take. The fact that I am a married woman makes me safer to play with.

There is also a similar dynamic with the female half of these suburban couples. As a child of a pretty divorced woman and very good friend to many of my divorced and widowed contemporaries, I have seen the way a single woman can get squeezed out of social situations that involve husbands. I believe that many women see these unattached females as competition for their husbands. I have always thought that a divorce would make me a social pariah in my suburban world. I am already very unconventional but to be a free-floating “sex pot” would be the end of any social life with most couples. This is why I take special care to include my single friends in my life. So in answer to my friend who noticed my lack of ring…I do not wear it to attract men…you will have to wait for my next post on wedding rings to find out why.

 

 

Previously Published on Open Salon November 9 2010