Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'Cause I'm a WOMAN

I can wash out forty-four pairs of socks and have 'em on the line. I can starch and iron two dozen shirts ‘fore you can count from one to nine. I can slip up a great big dip up of lard from a drippings can. Throw it in the skillet, do my shopping be back before it melts in the pan. 'Cause I'm a woman W O M A N.
I'll say it again. – Peggy Lee


Do we remember this song? Or better yet the 1980’s Enjoli commercial, based on the Peggy Lee song? She does it all. She brings home the bacon, fries it up in the pan. And never, ever let’s you forget you’re a man. I feel like this image of women has made it hard to be a woman. I know it’s dated. But how dated is it really? I think that there are a lot of men who want a woman like this, and I think there are just as many women to strive to be that woman, and are very hard on themselves when they fall short. Jesus. I am no feminist. But I don’t think I was put on earth to be a man’s “helpmate” either.

Last week, after a 4-week break, I ventured back to group it felt good, but weird. (The weirdness is in my head)

The girlfriend of one of the men in my group is moving in with him. She is moving from her city to his and they are co-habitating. He seems pleased about this turn that their relationship is taking, and I’m glad for him. I think he’s a good dude and he has had his share of relationship woes. He said something that was interesting; he said that while he appreciated many things about her, one of the things he realized meant a lot to him was her prowess as a homemaker. He appreciated her desire to make things “just so.” Since I was the only woman in the room, they all looked at me. “Is that sexist”? I thought about it and said that I guessed not, but I asked the question, is that what men want? A good housekeeper? His response to me was that he didn’t know that’s what he wanted in a woman until he met her and saw that was how she was built. And since she was that way, it worked for him. He does not strike me as sexist in the least. It seems that he was pleasantly surprised to find a woman who was smart, sexy and had mastered the art of making things “just so”. Fair enough. However, on my way home I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

What do men want in women? This is old question, and there are as many answers to it as there are men. I’m just wondering. I have always gone on the premise that I should just be myself. Entre nous, that hasn’t worked out very well. I don’t know what kind of homemaker I would be. I’m lived alone and have managed to take care of myself just fine, but I mean what would I be like as a wife and mother. Would I cook? Yes I would. I love to feed people. I cook and bake from scratch. I am a sender of the Christmas baked goods. I also really like knowing what you like so that it can be here for you if you want it. Would I clean? Meh. While I like a clean house, I hate keeping house. I am, however, particular about a few things. My closets for one, I only use the felt, Joy Mangano hangers. Clothing is arranged by category; pants, shirts, skirts, dress, which are then sub organized by work/ casual. All items are hung going in the same direction. My shoes are in clear plastic boxes with a photo and label on the box. My crafting stuff is SUPER organized. I have very defined categories and everything is labeled. I have a binder marked important documents, with plastic sleeves with a label identifying each item. Eh heh. Clearly there are some things that need to have be “just so”. It looks crazy when I have it all outlined in this way.

The thing is, the hyper organization is beneath the mess. I usually have so much stuff on the floor of the bedroom that I have to sort of make a path for myself to get around. The other side of the bed usually has a pile of laundry that never gets put away. It’s not dirty, but it IS a mess. I hate a messy kitchen or bathroom, so I make the effort in those areas. But other than that not so much. Does this make me somehow less desirable as a partner? Would I be less or more desirable if didn’t cook? Like is it ok if I cook, but don’t clean? Do the two things go together? If I didn’t cook or clean but wanted to have sex all the time and watch football, would that cancel every thing else out? I don’t know. Again, I am just wondering. Let’s say you could spread out all the parts of a woman’s personality on a table and you could build a woman. What would be the standard parts? What would be options? Women could do the same thing of course. If I could build my dream man, what would have to come standard? What would be bells and whistles? This is silly of course, as we can’t build our dream partner. But sometimes I think if I knew what was desired I could figure out where I fell on the list of must haves and can’t stands.

Few years ago I read, Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man, by Steve Harvey. Have I ever said how much I can’t stand him? He and Dr. Phil are both full of all this folksy wisdom, but never seem to capture anything significant. Steve says that it’s important to make a man feel like a man. I don’t know exactly what that means. Could it mean that I should leave him to the wood chopping while I churn the butter? Does it mean that I should thank him for watching his (our) children? He says this explicitly and even provides a charming example of how is own wife did just that. Excuse me while a rant for a moment---FUCK THAT. We are a family, we should all do our share. If you think for just one second that I am going to thank you for taking care of our children you have another thing coming. However, I am not married and have no children. Hmmm. Still it bugs me. That, that might be what is asked of me. So be grateful that my husband and father of our children need to be thanked for doing his share.

There is something…miraculous about a woman who can do it all. How remarkable, what a find, what a wonder she can do it all! She can be mommy, be sexy, be smart, be accomplished and be his. I would like to believe that most men don’t want wives from Stepford. I would like to believe that the roles of men and women have changed with the times. I would like to believe that as a woman, I am not regulated to the role of nanny and maid. I’d like to believe all those things. However, here is what I do know. While we have changed, we haven’t changed THAT much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Magic Numbers...

Three is a magic number, yes it is, it's a magic number. Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity you get three as a magic number. The past and the present and the future. Faith and hope and charity, the heart and the brain and the body, give you three as a magic number. It takes three legs to make a tri-pod or to make a table stand. It takes three wheels to make a vehicle called a tricycle. Every triangle has three corners, every triangle has three sides, no more, no less, you don't have to guess. When it's three you can see it's a magic number. A man and a woman had a little baby (yes, they did). They had three in the family, and that's a magic number. 3-6-9, 12-15-18, 21-24-27, 30. 3-6-9, 12-15-18, 21-24-27, 30. – Three, the Magic Number; School House Rock

Do you remember School House Rock? I LOVED School House Rock. My favorites always had to do with Grammar or History. I was never ever a fan of the math songs. As long as I can remember mathematics has pushed me into a place of angst and panic. I remember the third grade. Miss Peterson’s class. (Random—Peterson went on to date and marry my 7th grade teacher Mr. Grandson. This was quite the scandal. The wedding was in the 8th grade, we were all invited.)

Attempting to learn multiplication tables was one of the most traumatizing experiences I have ever had. No, I’m not kidding nor am I exaggerating. The aforementioned Peterson, useless. My parents were not only useless but they were abusive to boot. I have such vivid memories sitting at the dining room table with the flash cards and them taking turns being either verbally or physically abusive when I, inevitably, got the answer wrong. We’ve all heard the verse from Corinthians right? The one about love?

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.-1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13

My parents did the opposite of all that. They were just…mean. I can remember my mother asking me why I was so stupid. I can remember my father screaming that I was just not trying. And of course I remember the hitting. Not my father, my mother. She had this move that she did. It was a swoop down and gets her shoe move. It was scary, because I knew what was coming next. Eventually they just sort of gave up. I was eight. My parents give up trying to help me when I was 8 years old. Shame on them. The problem with that was I never got the foundation I needed for what was coming next. I struggled horribly for years with Math. When I got to college I managed to skip it and put it off and put it off. Eventually I gave up on myself. When working, I would do whatever I could to push off any math to colleagues.

When I decided that I would finish my college education, I learned very quickly that there would be none of that at The College of the Damned, at Overpriced University. I have attempted to take math no less than five times. Five times. I wish I could describe the frustration and mind numbing fear, which completely takes over. I would dread going to class, because I knew that I would not be able to keep it together. It was humiliating. A very kind professor suggested to me that I might have a mathematics related learning disability. Great, just what I need in my life, to be a math retard. However, when I thought about it, I thought… umm no, this is GREAT! If it turns out that I have math related learning disability my whole life (as it relates to math and numbers) would make sense. I hit the ground googling and guess what. It’s a real thing. Dyscalculia is a real thing. (Angels singing) Think Dyslexia for numbers. The more I read the more I seemed to have just about every single symptom.

•Frequent difficulties with arithmetic—Check!
•Difficulty with everyday tasks like reading analog clocks—Check!
•Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook---Not so much. While I am bad with money, it’s because I spend too much. I do this ok.
•Difficulty with multiplication-tables, and subtraction-tables, addition tables, division tables, mental arithmetic, etc—Check! Hello, 3rd grade!
•Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time. May be chronically late or early—Check! Early like it’s not even funny.
•Particularly problems with differentiating between left and right—Check! I am the worst at this.
•Might do exceptionally well in a writing related field — many authors and journalists have this disorder. —Check! (I’m going for it, check god dammit, I can write)
•Difficulty navigating or mentally "turning" the map to face the current direction rather than the common North=Top usage—Check! Check. I have to do this with legends all the time. (Remember Joey, from Friends? He had to get IN the map)
•Having particular difficulty mentally estimating the measurement of an object or distance (e.g., whether something is 10 or 20 feet away). —Check! Check! 2 ft, 6 ft, I don’t know.
•Often unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulas, and sequences—Check!
•Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks—Check!
•Low latent inhibition, i.e., over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light and the inability to tune out, filtering unwanted information or impressions. Might have a well-developed sense of imagination due to this (possibly as cognitive compensation to mathematical-numeric deficits). —Check! I can smell a banana a mile away and the smell makes me retch. My imagination is crazy. The things that I can conjure up.
•Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name/face retrieval. May substitute names beginning with same letter. —Actually not so much. I’m pretty good at names and faces.

I also read that people who have dyscalculia are clumsy. Likely because they can’t judge the distance, but I am hella clumsy. As I kid, I feel down. A LOT.

Anyway, this summer I decided that I would find out for sure, did I or didn’t I? Well boys and girls, the results are in, it is official. I have dyscalculia and I could not be happier. I thought that being diagnosed with a learning disability would make me feel bad or stupid, but I don’t! I feel pretty stellar. Clearly, I wish that I didn’t have this problem. However, like it or not, it is my problem to deal with. My little problem with math has a real name. This makes all difference in the world to me. I felt so…stupid for so long for no reason.

I have opted to forgive the ‘rents on this one. They didn’t know. They should have done a better job and helping me, but they didn’t know any better. Shrinker had suggested that I tell them. But I don’t need to. This was for me. I am certain that the College of the Damned will make sure that I take math in some shape or form, but they have to give me an accommodation. I am A-OK with that.