Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living Just Enough

Today was a stellar day.

It's hard to believe that a year ago I was still at my old law firm job; it's even harder to believe, looking at the wind blowing the trees and suffering the biting, near-freezing temperatures today, that about a year ago, spring appeared to have sprung. Things have changed so much for me personally in that year, not least the frequency with which I blog here.

But today was one worth recording.

I went to a school this morning that's a mere ten minutes away, and presented to three classes. The students varied in their interest in the program; the students presented some interesting disciplinary issues (I got called "very strict" by a student, which I'm sure my parents would find hilarious). But they were funny and smart and feisty and I loved them; the teachers were invested and good people, and I loved them, too; it was great. Back home for a quick lunch - extremely tasty leftovers - then hoicked up to Washington Heights to a school there.

It's been a while since I was in the Heights - I was there for a few hours at a school at the very start of January, but otherwise I've spent no real time there since we left for Brooklyn nearly four years ago.  I don't miss it that much, I can't lie - all our uptown friends had moved for the outer boroughs, and we'd grown tired of no outdoor space and not much room, both of which we have here. But today, things felt familiar - and fun. The students I taught were wonderful - funny, bright, vocal, active - just great. Then I wandered back to the GW Bridge and, on a whim, rather than catching the subway, I walked up on the bridge to take advantage of the shining sun and the extraordinary view south along Manhattan.

It was utterly beautiful. Then home to buy freesias, filling the house with their scent, and watch the wind shake the trees in the back garden. That wasn't so great, but it was light - sweet! - and I've spent the evening gently doing email chores and listening to TMS, with my feet warmed by a big fat cat. A stellar day indeed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


There's been a barnstorming and fluttering in the blogosphere on various topics this week that push certain of my rage buttons.  And there is some good writing on those topics. There is also a fascinating (subscription-only, alas) article by Jeffrey Toobin about Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the New Yorker, which I highly recommend if you can get hold of it (the link I've put in is to an accompanying slideshow).

But the one that is closest to my heart comes from Kate Harding on changing one's name - in which she adeptly points out that feminists sometimes do the non-feminist or, indeed, anti-feminist thing, that it doesn't make you a bad person, but you need to own that changing one's name is not a feminist action. To be honest, I'm not even a fan of double-barrelling/hyphenating - to me, that seems a little of a cop out - you know the feminist thing is to keep your name, but you really do want to take his name. If he does the same, great - and some of my friends have indeed done that. But it's a very, very, very rare man who does that. And when they are asked whether they would, often the most enlightened, ardent women's equality supporting male will react as if it's the stupidest question in the world - "why would I?" So why would I? Oh, that's right - I'm a lady. I forgot for a moment.

Like Kate I got married, too, and I enjoy being married, much to my shock. But one of the main reasons I did not want to be married was because I'd get hit with the assumptions that are made about a married women, and shortcuts taken about women that simply don't exist for married men.* Losing both my surname and first name at the first wedding we went to as a married couple caused me to cry with rage, I was so furious; the articles about married women taking their husbands' names indicate I'm still very much in a minority, however.

* There are tired tropes about married men, but a lot of those stem from lazy assumptions about women, again - for example how men are forced into doing things that they have ownership in - the house, food, their children - and it's just oh, so awful, and life would be better without her indoors nagging away and just ruining everything. Women, eh?