Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Atlantic, Final

I've finally put together a cohesive thought so here goes. I'm going to think about two words in the title, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All": have and all.

1) Having things. I could go on a rant about capitalism. But as I sit here typing on a ridiculously expensive laptop with all the ridiculously expensive accessories, I'm going to just leave capitalism, as a whole, alone for the moment. I want to think more about it in terms of possessions and why our success in capitalism is based on how much we have. For most of you who know me, you know that I love music from the 90s and if it is anything current, it still sounds like it is from the 90s. There is a Pearl Jam song that if I ever get married, I would love to hear at my wedding, even though it isn't the most romantic, it is certainly very apt. The phrase in "Just Breathe" goes "I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love." It popped in my head when I was thinking about "having it all" since I don't want to measure my success by how much I have, but rather how much I've loved, seen, laughed, inspired, mentored, etc. I told my son today that I was exercising because I wanted to make sure I could be around him for as long as possible. So while it meant that we couldn't play for an hour at that moment, we would be able to play for years later. And that's my "have."

2) All of it. When I was pregnant, I immediately thought of my friend's mother, an indigenous woman who has helped other women in their pregnancies. We didn't do typical doula things. Rather, we talked for hours at her home while picking vegetables in her large garden. She and her family have been composting and gardening for decades. I always left with enough vegetables for a week, or until my next visit. When my son was born, I needed some help with care and I thought of her and her other daughter who was beginning her third year of college. When I asked her daughter what she would like to paid for the summer, she came up with an extremely low amount. I said that I would never feel comfortable paying her that. She responded that she only worked in the summer for money she would need during the first semester of school. She said that she didn't need rent, food, or money for clothes and that this would just be money for an occasional movie or hanging out with friends. I said that I still felt bad about the amount. So she offered that she would keep my phone number, in case she needed a care package or advice about school and that would be more than enough. It reminded me of what her mother used to do when I was pregnant, with the vegetables and advice. It made me think differently about when it does come to "having" things, all is enough.

My dad used to take me, my brother, and my cousins on bike rides around the Bay on the weekends or to the zoo or one of the many things the Bay has to offer. We lived in a modest house and didn't a ton of things. We had an answering machine that my uncle made and my parents owned cars for decades. My brother and I joked about the one pair of shoes we got per school year until we started becoming avid runners; then it was two pairs. My parents never missed a parent/teacher night and my mother was notorious for showing up at school unannounced just to see what we were doing. She knew my teachers by their first names and they often chatted regularly in Spanish about life back home. They raised money for the school and showed up to all of our competitions and events. My dad once asked me if I would like to have the things that my friends had: the large house, nice cars, and designer clothes. At the time, that was "all." Before I could answer, he said that the large house would mean no furniture and parents who were dog tired and couldn't show up to things. He said that was one of the biggest things that disappointed him about this country--people came here, risking everything, just to work themselves to death to give their kids things they didn't need and probably didn't want. He said that while he would have preferred to raise us in Central America, we were here but that didn't mean we would be raised with American values, such as greed.

I think about an interview with Zach de la Rocha when he asked about being a vegetarian. He said "there is more than enough food out there to eat that I don't have to be a part of the death cycle of an animal." I was drawn to that statement in part because that was similar to my reasoning behind being a vegan for so many years and also because one can see how wanting, and desiring to have everything, has made people sick and unhappy. There is plenty of everything out there for all of us to have what we want, including the time to have what we need in our relationships, family, and friends.

I used to go to Nicaragua every year. I really looked forward to that trip. In part, it was a vacation. But it was also an opportunity to spend time with grandfather who has since passed. Prior to my visit, I would peruse my J.Crew catalog for the latest lounge, vacation wear and buy the newest sandals, bathing suits, and dresses to take with me. But in the two weeks of my trip, between hours on the beach, chatting with my grandfather, visiting my grandmother's grave, trying to guess the recipes of my favorite dishes, drinking local beer at the small bars, and visiting the elementary school, I didn't wear even half of the clothes. I actually left most of them behind. I thought I went on the trip having it all, but found that I gained it all while I was there.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Atlantic, Part Deux

I now reconsider my previous position on the Atlantic article. I'm not mad at you, feminism!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Atlantic

I've been mulling over this article from The Atlantic. And it seems as though I'm not the only one. I wanted to start this post making reference to the article since it might explain my absence from my blog for so long. The article strikes a cord with me because I feel like the last year, at minimum, has been about me trying to find that work/life balance, something that seems about as elusive as anything can be. I bought the actual magazine--I know that sounds odd on its own--while grocery shopping at Whole Foods, with my toddler asleep in the cart, having just come from a meeting about my leadership potential, a meeting to which I had to bring my son, who dutifully watched PBS on our iPad as if he knew mama was talking about our future right now so I need to be quiet.

Although I'd seen many Facebook posts about the article, no time seemed more appropriate to take the plunge and read what someone else was saying about what I was trying to figure out. One of the people who posted the link to the article is a former colleague from graduate school. She is about to begin a tenure-track position at a university. I gave up that possibility, in part due to my awareness that academia was not for me and the other part due to my committee feeling my pregnancy was too much of a distraction. I'll probably be bitter about that forever. I found it ironic though that the person who posted the link, and made a comment that this was something she was really thinking about now that she was beginning a pretty intense part of her career, is the same person who told me to stop complaining about my swollen feet and waddling during my second trimester because I wasn't "that pregnant" and later said that my family was evidence of my "lack of commitment" to my studies. Oh how the tides have turned. Interesting how that always seems to happen.

So I read "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" while my son was napping and did a quick inventory of who am I and where I'm trying to go. I'm attached to my iPad, as of late. The iBooks app is most used and has everything from the 50 Shades trilogy to the most recent Toni Morrison novel and tons of books on management and leadership including Moneyball and Steve Jobs (I say it's a leadership book). The iTunes app has Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" on repeat (you won't catch me saying I'm not bitter about my relationship break-up). And my P90X app is used everyday, thank you very much. But I started to think about what I would really like to be doing in my spare minutes to myself other than wondering what Christian Grey and Ana Steele are doing at the moment. I immediately thought of my comic and nothing else. I did some quick research and downloaded some apps including a writing app (I've often wondered why I like books with such crappy writing and considered how I could do a much better job in my comic). Other than educating young people in a traditional setting, using comedy as a learning tool is my other passion. And I got started writing my comic.

I then thought about something else from the article, specifically work hours, and how I can still have my passions and raise a son who doesn't go out and rob someone ten years from now. I'm smart enough to figure that out but I'll say, I don't have an answer right now. So when Lil O woke up and ate dinner, I decided we needed to work on his bball skills. He is going to be 3 soon and that isn't too early to start working on his defense and ball-handling. I said "Bubba, you're between me and the hoop (laundry basket) and I'm telling you that I'll fake left and come around you to the right. But if you're watching me, you'll know that I'm going to do that." He giggled but stared at my face. "Alright, I'm going to the left...uh-oh, now right" I said as he started running around me in circles. I then did my best slow motion lay-up into the laundry basket while saying "you left the hoop open" and he fell out laughing only interrupted by "you did it!!" And I thought, I definitely need to figure this out because I won't go another day without hearing that giggle.