Archive for July, 2008

About blogging: Are women bloggers taken seriously?

July 31, 2008

Sigh… As usual, I’m late to the debate. In a recent issue of Newsweek, technology columnist Steven Levy pointed out the lack of women and minorities in any substantive list of top blogs and bloggers, and argued for some sort of remedial action. (Oh, great. Affirmative action on the Internet. That’ll be a walk in the park!) Levy’s concern was sparked by a well-publicized comment by Keith Jenkins of the Washington Post:

My fear is that the overwelmingly [sp] white and male American blogosphere, hell bent (in some quarters) on replacing the current ranks of professional journalists with themselves, will return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one.

Their argument has Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute (who ain’t timid, I’ll warn you) breathing fire in an article in the New Republic Online (I know, it’s Bill Buckley’s Conservative rag, but I tend to sniff a lot of flowers in the media bouquet). She argues for the Web as a haven for the voiceless: Read the rest of this entry »


My Life in Shoes: Boots

July 31, 2008

Too many serious posts lately. Must lighten up. So I’ll blog about one of my less-noteworthy obsessions: Boots, preferably ones that fit.

Aside from the little plastic fur-topped boots of my childhood, my first serious encounter with boots came in high school and college in the ’70s. Frye boots, to be specific. The ultimate in hippie-chic in my little corner of the West. Square-toed, blond leather and indestructible. When I finally found a pair that I could squeeze my size-tens into (no small, er, feat), I wore them obsessively, even though they were snug and gave me blisters. (Why didn’t I just opt for a pair of men’s boots? They were almost exactly the same style…)

I never did wear white go-go boots, not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t find a pair that would accommodate my massive calves. I later learned to pull on boots and gradually inch them up over said calves for a reasonable fit, but by then, go-go boots were out — saving me money and probably years of embarrassment.

I still like boots, and I saw them everywhere when I was in London. The students found some really colorful and kicky Wellingtons in all colors and patterns on Portobello and Camden Roads that served them well in the rainy spring weather. And I’ve already blogged about my favorite British import, my trusty Doc Martens.

Boots really merge fashion and practicality, and they can look good with jeans as well as a little black dress. And so I was particularly pleased with the pair I recently found on sale in the dead of summer at Century 21 in NYC. The shoe gods were kind that day.

If you google or do an eBay search for boots, you’ll get a ton of thigh-high, plastic, stiletto-heeled options that never seem to make it out on the street, at least during the hours when I’m awake and at the locations where I hang around. (I lead a dull life.) So boots must be an obsession for more than just the likes of little old me.

Cars: I have seen the future…

July 30, 2008

… and it goes pretty fast! These two-seaters were everywhere in London, and very aptly fit London streets, parking stalls and especially gas prices, which would reportedly approach $9/gallon here. (I also saw a one-person automobile, which looked like an upright casket with windows and wheels. Not so comfy, or fast.)

I post this now because I ACTUALLY SAW ONE OF THESE HERE! ON COLLEGE AVENUE! MAKING A LEFT TURN! Has automotive sanity finally reached our shores?

Adventures at Midlife: A name change

July 29, 2008

Yeah, it’s still me. still works. Don’t change any links, unless you want to. I just thought “Adventures at Midlife” was a better fit with whatever it is I’m rattling on about. And my blogging goddess ByJane thinks I’ll get more traffic this way from the middle-aged and confused — Hey, that’s definitely me!

I’m still struggling a little with the switch. I supposedly own, but WordPress seems a little slow about recognizing it. A fix is now in place, and we’ll see if it holds!

Comments and suggestions graciously accepted and always appreciated. Keep your flames to yourself.

Diet Wars: Toughing it out — for what?

July 28, 2008

The always-excellent Tara Parker-Pope in the NYTimes has been dealing with a high reader response to a diet-related post that ran last week about a much-ballyhooed NEJM study. Among other things, the study sadly indicated “that dieters can put forth tremendous effort and reap very little benefit.” Well, du-uh.

Long-story-short: while the NEJM study favorably compared the Atkins low-carb diet with other plans (a good thing, since Atkins funded the study), the poor participants who stuck with the TWO-YEAR study lost a whopping 6 to 10 pounds. Total. I lasted about two weeks on Atkins and three weeks on the similar South Beach Diet, and felt sick most of the time on both, so I can’t imagine toughing it out for two years! How grim! Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures at Midlife: Women, work and the ‘non-recession’

July 26, 2008

The NYTimes has an interesting article about how the economic downturn is turning out to be gender-neutral:

Across the country, women in their prime earning years, struggling with an unfriendly economy, are retreating from the work force, either permanently or for long stretches…

When economists first started noticing this trend two or three years ago, many suggested that the pullback from paid employment was a matter of the women themselves deciding to stay home — to raise children or because their husbands were doing well or because, more than men, they felt committed to running their households.

But now, a different explanation is turning up in government data… Read the rest of this entry »

Hello, my name is msmeta and I’m terrified of rejection

July 23, 2008

Stephanie Klein at Greek Tragedy has a great post about her Blogher conference experience that confirmed my darker suspicions. Based on her description, I may never go:

If you come alone your very first time to such an event, without personally knowing another person, be prepared to regress. Without at least one close friend (or roommate) be ready to be completely stripped down to your most vulnerable self, that girl raising her hand, oooh-ing, “pick me. Pick me!” Like me. Play with me. Be my friend…

It’s really like walking around a constant, 3-day, pledge class, wondering when you’ll finally be able to fully relax and be inducted into the sorority of women. It’s scary in a way that shouldn’t be. I hear way too many people mention “private parties” with apologies. “Oh, are you going to the Nintendo dinner?” she whispers. No. I wasn’t invited. “What about the private party at the suite upstairs by this sponsor? Oh, did you go to the sponsored private cocktail…” Since when did blogging become so elitist? It really is just another way, ironically enough, to feel rejected.

Fortunately, she goes on to say, she did get connected, make friends, share experiences and have a great time. Stephanie is clearly more determined and more confident than I am. I generally give an experience like that — the cocktail party, the reception, the trade show open house, the book signing — about five minutes before I scurry back to my room for a night of HBO and room service.

It’s ridiculous, really. I clean up nicely. I have interesting things to say. My table manners are fine. It’s just that, hidden behind this paper-thin veneer of maturity and sophistication, is a terrified high school girl who won’t walk down the hall where the popular kids hang out. I will no longer set myself up by placing myself in situations where I’m going to be ignored. It has that same sting of invalidation I felt as a teenager.

I hope you all had a great time at the Blogher conference, really I do. There is great value in a conference that looks at blogging from a woman’s perspective. I’ve read the Blogher posts about it and even picked up some good tips and links. But that may be as close as I ever get.

Adventures at Midlife: Mah-velous Meryl

July 22, 2008

Anyone questioning if women have life, charm, chutzpah and sex-appeal after 50 needs to hustle down to the local multiplex and get a load of a perfectly cast Meryl Streep as the the matriarch in “Mamma Mia,” singing, dancing, falling out of windows and jumping on beds. Wow. She outshines her screen daughter and just about everyone else in the cast. She made me want to go find my old character shoes. (I have dibs on that blue peasant dress with the boho trim.)

And the girl has some pipes! (She apparently began her career out of Yale Drama School singing in musicals on and off Broadway.) The critics have been savaging poor Pierce Brosnan for his singing voice, which is at least as good as Springsteen, IMHO. Heck, give the guy a break. I’ve done a LOT of performing, and I guess I’ve listened to too many pear-shaped tones over the course of 30 years. I like real voices, from real people. A little Melissa Etheridge really clears the mind and the soul.

Forget the guy in black. (Three frackin’ hours of mayhem and nihilism. Sheesh.) I’ll put my money on Meryl.

Update: Body acceptance activist Kate Harding has a somewhat long but fun take on “Mamma Mia.”

Adventures at Midlife: Did feminism help?

July 17, 2008

How can you NOT want to read an article that begins: “As you may have heard, some 50 years after Betty Friedan sprang us from domestic jail, we women … seem to have made a mess of it.” Says Sandra Tsing Lo, a regular contributor to the Atlantic, the fruits of the feminist revolution appear to be sisterhood, empowerment — and eight hours a day in a cubicle.

(Her latest article is actually a commentary based around a couple of new women’s books, Linda Hirshman’s funny Get to Work … And Get a Life, Before It’s Too Late and Neil Gilbert’s more scholarly A Mother’s Work: How Feminism, the Market and Policy Shape Family Life.)

After wittily dissecting some of the feminist missteps over the last several decades, Lo ultimately admits to having escaped cubicle hell:

Work … family—I’m doing it all. But here’s the secret I share with so many other nanny- and housekeeper-less mothers I see working the same balance: my house is trashed. It is strewn with socks and tutus. My minivan is awash in paper wrappers (I can’t lie—several are evidence of our visits to McDonald’s Playland, otherwise known as “my second office”). My girls went to school today in the T-shirts they slept in. But so what? My children and I spend 70 hours a week of high-to-poor quality time together. We enjoy ourselves.

Oh, good for YOU, girl, although I would bet she earned her current life by spending several years in the trenches with the rest of us. I considered myself lucky to be able to work part-time and even spend a couple of years at home freelancing when my sons were small. That might be why I now have an office with A DOOR I CAN SHUT and not some cubby hole or other shared space. I didn’t seem to lose momentum.

Although I identify with the feminist camp, I sort of stopped checking in regularly on the women’s movement after Gloria Steinem. For some reason, her blonde good looks, Smith education and smooth delivery made her just another beautiful female I couldn’t compete with, so I sort of opted out of the fight — which, come to think of it, is what I usually do when looks or status factor into any social or business equation. I’ve shed enough blood — and tears — in those arenas to willingly go into combat again.

So what did we win from our feminist ways? Employers now at least have to pay lip service to equality in the workplace, although privately held companies, which don’t have to publish salary scales, are likely still favoring men. Women seem to be more visible in top-tier positions, but there’s a definite lag, particularly considering that in some spheres we make up at least — if not more than — 50 percent of the workforce. And the wage gap remains firmly in place.

In my darker moments, I sometimes think that equality has heaved on me just one more area where I don’t seem to measure up. Society now expects women to make a quantifiable contribution, and my 30-odd years (most of them WERE odd) in the workforce find me still entrenched in middle management — by choice, I must say, to accommodate all the other things I wanted to do. Moving up always meant staying longer and later, and I just didn’t want to. (Admission: Being part of a two-career family made that possible.) At 55+, I’m not enthusiastic about my prospects of moving much further.

SO WHY AM I APOLOGIZING FOR ALL THIS?! Wasn’t it all about choice in the first place? Says Lo of the current flight of advanced-degree-holding women back to Betty Friedan‘s suburban nightmare:

And what are our fallen M.B.A. sisters of [Harvard] doing? Kvells one Harvard-grad-turned-stay-at-home-mom, on the subject of her days:

I dance and sing and play the guitar and listen to NPR. I write letters to my family, my congressional representatives, and to newspaper editors. My kids and I play tag and catch, we paint, we explore, we climb trees and plant gardens together. We bike instead of using the car. We read, we talk, we laugh. Life is good. I never dust.

Wow. Sounds good to me — if you can afford it. It just never seemed like an option for me.

Reasons To Go On Living: Brenda Leigh’s back!

July 10, 2008

The Closer, featuring the fabulous and Emmy Award-winning Kyra Sedgwick, returns on Monday night! Tivo is all set so we won’t miss one bit of The Drawl! Actually, The Spouse and I have been fixin’ to go through with-Drawl! If it hadn’t been for that extra episode last winter about her cozy cross-country RV trip — with a suspect, Fritz, and her parents, Clay and Willie Ray — we both might be institutionalized by now!

It is really great theatre. Her anguish over her early-menopause symptoms and her frantic struggle to maintain both her career and her relationship with an often-demanding significant other, added to the drama of the cases she and her squad investigate, are brilliantly offset by some of the funniest repartee on television, particularly when that new comedy team of Flynn and Provenza are around:

Brenda: According to his school records, [the suspect is] very intelligent but he does have issues: he’s unemotional, frequently says inappropriate things, he’s literal-minded, he gets fixated on minor details, he gets agitated when his routine is altered and he’s extremely uncooperative when anything or anyone gets in the way of him doing what he wants.

Flynn: Does he have a Georgia accent?

Courtesy of QVC, we can now order her junk food-hiding tote bag!

Thank yew all so very much! We’ll be servin’ stewed possum, fried okra and cheese grits to celebrate the occasion!