“Don’t tell Mom.” = An e-mail from my sister.
“I know.” = My response.
We hadn’t done anything illegal (you’re shocked, I’m sure). We hadn’t broken anything or hidden any evidence, and we weren’t re-enacting the Christina Applegate movie. We simply decided to protect the woman who bore us from: news of the Return of the Thrush. It may not be grammatically correct to capitalize the name of the infection or to put “the” in front of it, but it feels appropriate. We just weren’t sure Mom could handle it, even though she’s dealt with much greater crises with one hand behind her back and the other one cooking a gourmet dinner. You could hear her teeth grind every time she asked, “Is it any better?” and a pained sigh every time I said, “No, not really.” And I might have thought she was overdoing it a bit, had I not discovered for myself that knowing that your daughter is in pain is a whole new kind of anguish.
Jennifer Gandin Le
When my mother turned 50, I sent her a card that declared joyfully “Congratulations, you are now officially a crone!” like she’d been reaching for that moment her entire life. She was horrified. She felt as if I’d labeled each one of her wrinkles with a proper name; but I, on the other hand, believed the word crone to be the most flattering thing to call a woman. As a child, I couldn’t wait to escape ingénue-hood for when oh when could I be that crone, an old woman who oozed grace and insight from having lived a life, a real gritty passionate life. I once dramatically confessed to my friend Maria, “I can’t wait to be old,” to which she responded in 7-year-old solidarity, “I can’t wait to wear lipstick.” She didn’t understand that “old” for me meant wise.
In pursuit of wisdom, I grew up trying to define it. I assumed that it looked serious–a solemn face furrowed in Deep Meaningful Smart Thought and often staring into the grassy distance. When I spotted people like this, I gazed upon them like a dutiful servant, terribly impressed by what they might know about the world, but never particularly soothed.
As I step into my 30’s (and therefore become supposedly wiser, though I’d trust a toddler’s insight over anyone’s my age), wisdom is begging for a new wardrobe. Be-gg-ing for it.
What I’ve noticed is that the people I respect the most do one thing consistently… Continue reading
I am naturally organized. It’s one of my superpowers.
As a toddler, my parents once found me methodically pulling clean diapers out of their box, lining them up along the wall in the hallway, and then placing all of my stuffed animals in a diaper, one by one. As a pre-teen, I would empty my big container of collected pennies and line them up on the carpet in order of their year. Now, I take great satisfaction in a well-constructed Excel spreadsheet, and even my writing talismans on my desk-side table sit in a specific arrangement. I moderate Crucial Minutiae’s comments without second thought, and took deep satisfaction from re-organizing the weekly columns.
When I started meeting professional writers in my early 20s, I noticed that many of them, especially the most commercially successful ones, were naturally disorganized. They are brilliant writers and thinkers who, when they go deep into the writing process, seem to lose all sense of their physical world.
I contributed to the recent media darling of a report: A Woman’s Nation (co-produced by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress). After speaking on a great panel with Michael Kimmel and Stephanie Koontz last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about the need to reframe this issue so that men feel like they can really own their own stake in making work policy more flexible, family-friendly, and generally honoring of the fact that we are all more than drones. Here’s an excerpt from the column I penned on this topic:
For all of our progress on framing the issue, however, one challenge remains largely unmet. We have yet to figure out a way to tag these issues as critical to both women and men. We have to stop using “work/life balance” as coded language for “working-mom stress.” Despite ample evidence that men are served by investing more time and energy outside the workplace and “coming out” as fathers while in it, there are very few men who are taking on this issue in a substantive, political way.
I’ve been getting lots of emails from men, in particular, who are excited about my argument, but no one seems to be suggesting a new framing, new language. Any ideas from the CM audience?
My cohort at Emotion Technology (and husband) Christopher Gandin Le is live blogging for the CDC at the National Environmental Public Health Conference: Healthy People in a Healthy Environment.
Majora Carter, a genius and one of my favorite speakers on this subject, is speaking at this conference along with many other great minds. You can enjoy the highlights of a conference on a vital topic from the comfort of your own computer!
Check it out via Twitter
You can also register to watch a free live webcast here.
The first brag round-up since August! Our Crucial Minutiae writers have been busy.
Jennifer Gandin Le
- In August, Cristina gave (calm) birth to Francesca – the first Crucial Minutiae baby!
- Kate’s book CHEER! will be made into a TV show for Warner Bros. TV. Read about the show at Variety.
- “Is Your Friend Toxic?” on New York Post.