Archive for March, 2007
Here’s a short little entry before I leave work. Last night at my book club, I took a measure of the room – politically. Here, for your edification, Dear Reader, is the breakdown. Now, bear in mind, we are a group of eight. Six of us were stay-at-home mothers for a number of years. The other two worked part-time and then full-time. Their children went to daycare and after school daycare. (Those are the consistently happy two members I was talking about in my previous entry. They are also almost a decade younger than our oldest member.) One of our members is still at home with children and has no intention of seeking paid employment.
So, politically – how do we look?
Five of us are NDP voters.
Three of us are Liberal voters.
As far as we know, we haven’t had a single Conservative member. I thought we had, but it turns out she was an NDP voter, supporter, and member. She was kind of a hard-assed bitch, too. So I just assumed.
Anyway, our book club is what even the most objective observer would call – fairminded. It is also solidly middle-class with a lean to upper. One of our members, a Liberal, is close to being a millionaire, I would guess. The two youngest are the most vociferous NDP supporters. I am in the middle of the pack – smack in the middle. The other two are quiet about their membership in the NDP, but they are actual members. (I’m not actually a member.)
So four NDP actual members, one non-member, and three voting Liberals. The millionaire (almost) is a member of the Liberal party, the other two just vote Liberal.
Not a woman in that room can stand Stephen Harper or the New Conservative Government of Canada.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s the high level of collective education, the solid middle-class income, or maybe it’s the fact that we know – actually know – what it’s like to be married and have children, stay at home with them, go back to work, have a divorce or two, in this society that politicians talk about a lot but don’t really know much about because they haven’t really lived in it.
So there you have it. I was surprised, by the way. I honestly was. Five NDPers? Anywhere in a room together that’s not the actual NDP Caucus?
Everybody In – the Secretary Pool!
Here’s what I did after work yesterday before heading out to my monthly book club get together to discuss “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. I got a ride home from ou81aswell, Sooey’s Webmaster, (and not his real name), ran across the street without even looking, went into my apartment and immediately started obsessing over the pictures on my walls and how they are placed, started re-arranging things in spite of a gnawing hunger, ate a huge piece of homemade (by me) key lime pie, changed into a pair of fancy lacey undies (???) that turned out to be picky and too tight, ran to the bus stop, got picked up at the bus station 20 minutes later.
Luckily, the hostess for that evening is married to a fellow who likes to cater in his spare time and I was able to eat a proper meal of tiny perfect hors d’oeurvres before we launched into a discussion of the crazy world of Sylvia Plath – which struck me as not so crazy as my body recovered from the mild cold sweat and sugar shakes I had experienced on the bus ride to the point where I almost – almost – thought I should say something to somebody: “I may look like a normal well-adjusted person to you, but here’s what I just did…” in case I fainted or something and people thought it was for a valid reason and panicked instead of just giving me bread and water, which is all I would have deserved by way of treatment, if you really stop and think about it.
I certainly never do until it’s too late and I’m well into a cold sweat and sugar shakes.
Anyway, I was well primed for “The Bell Jar” and a discussion about Esther’s spiral into depression, something I have been profoundly lucky to have never experienced, although I didn’t realize I was an anorexic (not sort of, not kind a – an absolute anorexic with all the attendant symptoms) until I was in middle-age. And now I think about it, I was a mother-at-home with children who really had to force herself every day to leave the house, go for a walk, talk to somebody – not on the phone – face to face. A stranger on the walk (“nice day, eh”) qualified as a conversation, then I could allow myself to go back in the house.
My mother used to say during those days (by phone – she lived 500? miles away), “It’s the routine that saves you.”
Or does it just hide crazy?
But we all have our trials and tribulations and I certainly never experienced the sort of mental illness Esther does, a descent which results in a chilling round of electro-shock therapy. One of our members pointed out her premonition of what was to come with Esther’s early on fixation with The Rosenbergs and their deaths by electrocution. Burning to death, essentially, is how she “feels” their official sentences. Condemned to burn to death.
Still, Esther wasn’t so crazy that she didn’t have an amazingly accurate fix on the world of work for women. For instance, in spite of her mother warning her that she needed to learn how to type to be able to secure employment for herself, Esther refuses because she doesn’t want EVER to be a secretary and she knows that if she learns how to type, that’s exactly what will happend. Now THAT resonated with me because my mother did the same thing except she had an influence and power over me that Esther’s mother never had over her and I learned how to type.
And in spite of an Honours B.A. in History and English from the University of Toronto – I have never been more than a secretary in my entire work life. And I hate being a secretary. I HATE IT.
I. HATE. IT. I’ve always hated it. Being a secretary is the worst, most degrading job imaginable. There. I’ve said it. So why do it? Well, “The Bell Jar” answered that for me – because I learned how to type. See? You can think you’re saner’n some woman who had electrodes attached to her head and many many volts sent shooting through her brain, but at the end of the day, who learned to type and who didn’t. So I asked around my book club and guess what? Out of eight women, six of whom stayed home with kids when they were younger, five of whom went back to work after a few years – only one of them learned to type and only one of them is working as a secretary.
Interesting, eh? But the most interesting response to the whole typing thing came from the one woman among us who has the most education (3 degrees), the highest standard of living (married to the male version of herself), and is a defiant stay-at-home mother (one of her degrees is in law). She said that learning how to type was the workplace equivalent of getting pregnant in high school because you were too stupid to use birth control.
Gulp. I didn’t become sexually active (outside of my imagination, at least) until I was in University and even then, well, let’s just say I was very lucky. Or not, maybe, since I already knew how to type and would only ever be a secretary, anyway, in spite of my having gone to University for four years.
But I’m always curious about women who seem in control of their lives, who know what they want (left or right, quite frankly) and live that way without letting society (left or right) have any affect on their decisions. Curious is putting it mildly, maybe. I’d like to get inside their souls for just a few minutes and find out HOW they do it. So I asked my fellow book clubber how she manages to stay her course and not get a job, earn her own money, all that stuff that catches up with some of us who think we can stand to live lives financially dependent on better halves and then can’t.
She said, “I control all our money. Always have. I move it around, invest it. We wouldn’t have any of this if it wasn’t for me.”
Which, correct me if I’m wrong, Dear Reader, is pretty much like being a broker – isn’t it? Anyway, so much for that last thread of hope. She also took/takes copious notes on all our books and provides her insights after we’ve all hashed it out and exhausted every bit of information about ourselves since our last book club get together because we still have that mother-at-home hangover that compels us to talk, talk, talk while you’ve got other adults at hand to listen to you.
Oh, one more thing, Esther had major issues with men, we all noticed. Her sexuality scared her, men were off putting to her, professionally they were untrustworthy because they treated her as a non-person. We didn’t even get into that discussion, which I only realized later in the car as I was getting a ride home from another book club member whose teenaged daughter got her a job by taking her to the computer, bringing up a job site that had the perfect job for her on it, and showing her how to send off her resume. I mentioned that to her and she said, “We don’t have time, anymore.” And I said, “You know, we don’t seem to be pissed off anymore, either.”
And it’s true. I remember when we started out and six out of eight of us were mothers-at-home. We were an angry lot. We thought the other two of us weren’t as angry because they were younger, but now I think it was because they had part-time jobs and earned their own money. Which was all Esther really wanted, she wanted to make a living as a writer – and she was willing to work to do it, she just didn’t want to fall into any traditional female traps along the way. But that was back in the early 60s, I started working in the early 80s, now it’s the new millenium and everybody does their own typing because unless you’re online, you’re out of the loop.
Now, everybody’s a secretary.
Grr. I had a whole entry typed up and ready to dazzle and then instead of hitting “submit” I hit something else and lost it. The entry that is. Then I lost it. My mind, this time.
Anyway, it was about marriage and how the divorce rate is already 50% and how we – as in, society – are having a hard time coping with that high rate of divorce and yet if what I predict comes true, soon we’ll have a divorce rate as high as 75% with which we’ll have an even harder time coping.
In a nutshell, my reasoning for this higher and higher divorce rate is that women no longer want to be wives. Not for any length of time, anyway.
I said a lot more stuff, but I guess that pretty much crystallizes it down to its essence.
The wife is a creature of days gone by, I’m afraid. No longer will she be there, sacrificing herself for her family. She’s gone the way of the dodo bird and soon the panda. The whales, the elephants, the polar bears – maybe even the seals.
I’ll miss the animals. At least, I’ll miss knowing they were there. Somewhere. Living their lives. Surviving against all human odds.
The wife? Not so much. Or not at all even. But then, I was never going to get one, anyway. I’d have to be one, have been one, and never want to be one again. Living your life for someone else, whether he’s your husband or your child (and sometimes…), is bullshit. The fact that I can say “bullshit” and not be beaten with a stick no thicker than my husband’s thumb proves it.
The wife is dead, to walk among us no more. Only the retro wannabes will call themselves “wife” now. There’s no such thing anymore. Alas, with women now able to live independently of men, to raise children independently of men, marriage is pretty much just an affectation and the wife nothing more than a kitschy bauble.
That was pretty much it. I had a lot of bombast and carry on, a few anecdotes, a broad smear of men d’un certain age (but not race or creed – this time). But it seems redundant now and I’m happy to distill the piece down to a Eulogy for the Wife.
Yeah. So instead of hitting “submit” I hit something else and my entry disappeared altogether into the ether. Now that’s something that wouldn’t have happened if the wife was still around, eh? Back in the day when there were wives, we didn’t have entries disappear into the ether. They stayed right where they were, in front of us on our desks. My goodness what a difference technology makes in our lives. I damn near thought my head was going to explode. Then I thought, “What the hell am I freaking out for? It’s a blog entry! If I can’t remember the gist of it – and it’s not like I’m losing money not producing it – then it couldn’t have been much worth sending out to thousands of faithful readers, now – could it?!”
Anyway, that was pretty much it – the thing about nobody wanting to be the wife anymore because times have changed to such an extent that she’s really just hopelessly out of date. Like a typewriter. Just… you know… I guess we’ll all have to get used to losing the odd entry without her… or something…
But I’m right, aren’t I. Look around. See those teenaged girls over there? You think they’re going to live their lives for their husbands? Do you think they’re going to be wives for longer than a two week honeymoon in the Dominican Republic?
No. Not even for as long as it lasts. They’ll be wanting to stay up and have fun and he’ll want to go to bed and have sex. And unfortunately, she didn’t marry him for sex and he didn’t marry her for fun. Or the other way around. I’m never sure about that one. But they’ll get married in spite of themselves because marriage is like death and taxes in this society. Hey – and it ends in death and taxes, too.
Unless… Unless… Unless the reason why marriages have been failing at an ever increasing rate is BECAUSE of the wife! Hey! Maybe that’s it! Maybe marriages have been failing because as soon as women didn’t have to be the wife (i.e. financial independence outside of marriage) they didn’t WANT to be the wife – they wanted to be a woman.
BUT, if women go into a marriage NOT being the wife, they may not want out of it! At least, not so badly that the divorce rate is a consistent 50% and rising.
Maybe, without the wife, marriage stands a fighting chance! And now, maybe, just maybe, if people were to be pronounced “Partners” instead of “Husband and Wife”, it might last longer!
Hey – and maybe, if that “until death do us part” were to be switched to “until one of us no longer wants to be a Partner” – marriage could be like the bees knees because people wouldn’t have that pressure hanging over their heads that they HAVE to stay together and so they would actually WANT to stay together!
Otherwise, I really think we’re going to have to get used to ever increasing rates of divorce, I really do. And 75% might be low-balling it.
Iran from Iraq
Admit it. It’s crossed your mind, hasn’t it. Okay. If you won’t, then I will.
As soon as I heard the news about the kidnapping of 15 British sailors by Iranian terrorists I thought, “Oh my. That IS convenient.” And feared the worst for their lives.
In a way that sent a chill up my spine. Like maybe this whole thing is exactly what it looks like except that the people behind it aren’t necessarily the people we’re being led to believe are behind it.
Maybe the people behind it are closer to home than even the most conspiratorial among us would want to believe.
I’m just saying.
And I suppose I’m a traitor for thinking such a thing at all, but I can’t pretend to not know what I know about the American administration – a.k.a. Bush Inc. The media might have to in order to report the news as objectively as possible, but, adding up the facts of the War on Terror so far – I can’t pretend I don’t think this international incident is not at all what it seems.
In fact, now I think of it… did I insert “kidnapping” and “terrorist” myself? Did the original news report say “capture” and “authorities”? Or just “kidnapping” and “Iranians”? On account of “Iranians” is loaded enough to set the scene in a way that is meant to justify an invasion – sooner rather than later.
I’m just saying.
We all knew it was coming. A trigger for invasion. Is this it? With just enough time left in the Bush Inc. mandate to get really down and dirty and embedded in Iran? Do I even want to go there knowing there are fifteen lives at stake right now in Iran (I assume) and that all fifteen may be murdered for reasons we may never know because of Official Secrets acts and Patriotism acts and just because the C.I.A. which has seemed to be laying low these past few years may only have seemed to be laying low because it is, in fact, the Government of the United States?
I don’t go there often because I find it all pretty terrifying. You know, like how the New York Times must have found it terrifying to realize there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, that the President of the United States had been lying all along about there being intelligence to prove that there were, that he would have known all along that he was lying, that he deliberately perpetrated a massive fraud on the American people in order to invade Iraq, that the duly elected Leader of the Free World was lying to everybody in it but that he had so whipped up the American people in a frenzy of Patriotism that the most important and influential newspaper in the United States of America was afraid to report the news.
I get scared. I get scared because then I think – they’ve got more money than they could ever possibly want, these Bush Inc. people. So why are they perpetrating this massive fraud on the rest of the world? Is it, in fact, because they are ideologues? Is it because they truly believe in their Tribe as being of the One True Faith – with Faith being something unique to this mix of the American religious right and Texas oilmen? Is it possible that this is all about their Tribe being seen to take over the world before its term is up?
I’m just saying.
I really don’t know what to believe. I know what I don’t WANT to believe, but I also know that the first thing, the very first thing, that sprang to my mind when I read about the “kidnappings” was how convenient they were to Bush Inc.’s push for a War on Iran. The next thing I thought was – they’ll be killed. Those people will be killed – we just won’t ever really know by whom. And their deaths will be used to justify the next step in this War on Terror. Remember? The Axis of Evil? Like a prophesy it will come true.
Look. I don’t want to think these things. I really don’t. But I can’t unthink them, now, can I.
But read this and tell me if you haven’t read it all before:
DejaVu All Over Again
Putting the Pathetic in Politics
I thought there was a lot to say about the Quebec election and the big issue of what Muslim women will be wearing to vote in it, but I’ve decided there really isn’t. After noticing during a smattering of coverage about the three big campaigns by the three little white Christian Frenchmen running that well, everybody and his supporters looked to be white Christian Frenchman up in arms over Muslim women and their damned hijab-wearing/or not – I decided there really isn’t much to say beyong – “Gee… I wonder which of the three white Christian Frenchmen the hijab/or not wearing Muslim women will vote for this time?”
Some choice, eh ladies? Whoo-ee. Bigot #1, Bigot #2, or Bigot #3. Your choice. And don’t be taking our freedoms lightly. In this country voting is a right you get to exercise, honey.
Gawd. I feel like my ex’s Nanna who used to exclaim after every trip of her time spent in Pearson International Airport, “I hardly knew I was in Canada!” You know, on account of all the coloured people. Again.
So I guess it’s true and everything old really IS new again so we can just fuhgeddaboudit. Like, for real. I mean, once again, if you don’t like the fact that some people come here and don’t act Canadian enough for your liking – you can just harass them until they do. Or not. In the meantime, the important thing is that you can harass them to the point where it’s all an entire election is about. It’s the new Canadian way led by Quebec.
Nevermind that every time I’ve showed up to vote here in Ontario, my name has been ticked off a list and that’s it and that’s all. My face has been almost totally irrelevant to the whole thing. No wait, that’s an exaggeration – not “almost” totally irrelevant – TOTALLY totally irrelevant. It’s all about my name, address, voter’s card (or not, depending) and then having an elections volunteer tick my name off his or her list.
In fact, he or she can even be wearing a hijab when he or she does it. It’s not about looks. It’s about showing up to vote, presenting some form of ID with your name on it, and having that corresponding name ticked off an Elections Canada list.
So we all know this isn’t really about voting or election fraud. It’s about power. The same old same old. It’s about telling Muslim women that the men who matter in this country, the ones you’d better obey, are white and Christian. Not Muslim. Those guys, if they aren’t terrorists already, are oppressors of women and in no way part of the power structure here. Not in this country. In this country it’s white CHRISTIAN men.
But aren’t you glad that the New Conservative Government of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper already showed his hand and no matter who wins this Quebec election – the moon has been promised and the stars will be delivered to Quebec? I mean, one of these three guys will be Premier of Quebec. Aren’t you proud? To be Canadian, I mean? And that the NCGoC’s PM owns his ass now? Or the other way around? Like, WHATEVER?
Yes indeed. I’d hardly know I was in Canada. Except how could I have any doubt.