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Do I tip this guy or not, wondered Evvie as the young
man with dark, slicked-back hair took her concert ticket. For the past
week, she'd been waited on by such young men: courteous, attentive,
tolerant of her highschool French. They'd brought her glasses of wine on
her Boston-to-Paris flight, served her coffee at outdoor cafes, sold her
diet Cokes at four dollars a can. One young man - a vendor in the tiny
Haagen Dazs near her hotel - had the grace to remember her after she'd
showed up for a third afternoon in a row for a cooling
Freed of identity
Freed of democracy
Stoned by disease...(more)
Two things have gotten me into
trouble all my life - being told I can't do something and speaking out in righteous
indignation. The first got me into my former career, thanks to Harry Morse. I dated
that moron briefly during my freshman year of college. Imagine the unmitigated gall,
telling me I wasn't smart enough to be an engineer. I showed him. I graduated third
in the engineering class. The feminist movement was just getting rolling and working
in a profession dominated by men...
Seniority is rampant in New York City. I'm a senior myself, sixty
years old, to be exact, recently moved to Manhattan. But that's
not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the kind of
seniority you gain when you stay put. When you...(more)
I sit on my deck making my dinner by peeling the foil off of
Hershey's Kisses thinking two thoughts. The first thought is that
someday, I'll write the Hershey's people to thank them for pulling me
through so many crises. The second thought is that it isn't cancer yet.
It's still just a lump....(more)
Little Suit counts couples, a
mental reflex from her perch in a single-seat on the
driver's side of the shiny imported bus. A pair with
identical elephant pants and silver chin plugs, very retro,
very edgy. Another two with Gucci shades - rip-offs, of
course. Gal pals in iceberg lettuce uniforms. Bland but
crisp. Much ado...(more)
I knew it was "humiliation time" again as I walked into the girls'
locker room and instantly smelled the strong odor of chlorine. My nose
began to twitch and I rubbed it with the back of my wrist; my watch
caught the base of my nostrils and felt cold....(more)
Your Own Adventure
I stood slightly nauseous as my aunt asked, "So what are you
going to do when you graduate?" Me? Graduate? I feel like I
just got used to college! I'm not ready to be an adult, trade in my
Eastpak for a briefcase, and read the New York Times on the 5:45
train every morning. Thoughts of investing in a good gray suit and
sitting for eight hours in...(more)
Conquering AIDS One Mile at a Time
I can't count the number of moments before the ride when I thought I
must be crazy to spend four days cycling through North Carolina,
Virginia and the District of Columbia. It was the year I turned 35 and I
was eager to hit my mid-30 point having done something spectacular.
After hearing a co-worker recount his experience in the event...(more)
Deprogramming in progress - please
name is Sennie. I am 34 years old. It's 4:30 a.m. on a
Tuesday morning. I have decided that from this day forth I
will do only the things that make me happy...(more)
"My name is Vera Simmons and I'm a co-dependent."
The woman speaks in a whisper so that no one will hear her. She is
standing hunched over as if she would like to disappear into herself.
She has graying brown hair and nondescript eyes behind thick plastic
glasses, $25.99, at Wal-Mart. She has dark circles beneath her eyes; her
skin looks sallow and ill-kept. She wears a clean but tattered sweater,
the moss green does not suit her, it is a hand-me-down from her mother.
Her shoes are large and orthopedic; she needs them for the errands she
runs from morning to night. She is thirty-two but looks at least
thirty-six. She has never said "no" a day in her life. She is not a
woman that I like...(more)
Driving to Nowhere
The gas station attendant looked at Eleanor suspiciously when she asked
for the key to the restroom. Stupid hippy, his eyes said, I know what
your kind does in our bathroom. Reluctantly, he handed it over to her, a
lone key on a key chain with a tacky metallic zebra. "Okay," he said,
looking at the Pepsi clock on the wall, "Five minutes only. We got other
customers. And remember, I've got the other key." He patted a key ring
attached to his jeans and grinned menacingly...(more)
Sipping hot tea, gazing across the empty beach towards
where the night rests upon the ocean, a woman sits on the wooden steps
that lead from the beach to the cottage. She has wrapped her cotton
nightgown tight around her knees and legs. Her thin feet are bare, the
toenails cut blunt and left unpolished. Her long black hair twisted up
in a barrette sets off the inky depths of her eyes--bright as an
animal's. She wears no make-up and, except for the silver bracelet that
seems somehow misplaced on her, no jewelry. Radiating an air of stark
candor, she's a woman whom you'd expect to smell like herself, her
breath moist with a warm salty aftertaste...(more)
Empowering Women to Rescue Zambia from AIDS
Chilufia Mwaba is a beautiful and resolute Zambian in her late twenties.
Her short hairstyle highlights a lively, sensually featured face. Her
plain outfits unveil nonchalantly but generously the polished dark skin
of her d╗collet╗. She sits smiling at us with poise from her desk at the
Society for Family Health's headquarters, a modest building situated...(more)
Everything You Need
There's this big lie out there. That we can do anything. And everything we need to do it is at
the Home Warehouse...(
Mom disappeared behind the furnace down in the basement. I heard a scraping noise and she
emerged, dragging a box filled with Halloween costumes she'd made for my older sisters. We
pawed through them, looking for something I could wear to the third grade party. I didn't
want to wear the red union suit with a limp devil's tail sewn onto the back, nor the tattered
black witch's dress, nor the "little Dutch girl" false face that smelled like old Band- Aids...
the first month or two, people were kind, inviting me out to dinner and
the like. But then they went back to their own lives. I never minded
being alone, even when Peter was alive. But Selma, my best friend,
couldn't stand it. "You've moped enough," she said...(more)
Oh, God. I've just arrived in Manhattan alone and I can't unlock the
door to my new apartment.
This is how I imagined my first
minutes in New York. But it doesn't happen that way, because when I
change trains in Chicago, from the California Zephyr to the Lakeshore, I
sit beside a friendly young Australian woman traveling in the United
States. From Seattle to Chicago she hasn't been able to reach the
Manhattan telephone number she was given, and so I invite her to put her
sleeping bag in my empty apartment once we get there. She accepts, and I
have my first guest. A guest who is good with keys...(more)
Someone on my team catches the ball, so I
start jogging down court, my eyes fixed on the spot where
I'm supposed to be: under the basket. I'm almost there when
the ball slams into the side of my head and ricochets out of
bounds. I smell the pain - it smells like a hospital - and
I hear the mean blare of the buzzer. Subs in, me out. I
start jogging for the bench before I hear my
I don't want to boast,
But when the moon shone bright over the hayfields
I stripped to my bare nothings
And cast my two broad buttocks toward the sky
And laughed at the sheer delicious moment
Of unbridled freedom
Front Page News About Women in Pants
When I was growing up in the early 1900s, all women had long hair
and no women wore pants. Soon after I sacrificed my long gold curls for
freedom for women while I was a freshman at Florida State College for
Women, the boy I had been seeing in Gainesville wrote to me that he did
not intend to have dates with a woman with short hair. I was not sorry
to be rid of him....(more)
When my husband said he wanted to build a boat, I said, "Fine.
Okay. Let's do it."
So we did..... (more)
My 3-inch heels clanked obnoxiously on the marbled
floors. I was late, my blouse untucking, my breath
short, my face flushed, and my bags slipped off my
shoulder. A hand reached between the closing elevator
doors. "Thank you SO much," I gushed. "I'm SO late."... (more)
Goodbye Travail... on leaving my dream job in France
Today is my very last day of working at the vineyard. For months, my
stomach has been in knots. Today I feel as if I am walking on clouds.
I have the carefree feeling that belongs to one who is leaving a company
and could care less. My underlying attitude is "What can she do, fire
You are the dust I have brushed from my feminine,
The unwanted pounds I have shed...(more)
The House for Unwed Fathers
My cousins call it the house for unwed
fathers. It's not really a house though, just a big
apartment. And, while all the guys living there are old
fathers, not all are unwed. Unconventional would be a better
word for them.
In this house live the artist, the athlete, the poet, the
plumber, the trucker, and the burger flipper. The artist and
the plumber are actually one and the same, and my dad Nick,
who drives a truck for a living, is among these five graying
Last summer, my daughter and I moved to a dry town in Arkansas, and
while I was trying to adjust to the hellish weather and the inability to
buy a beer, I longed for some relief in bed. I was living in the Bible
Belt, surrounded by strangers who invited my daughter and me to their
churches, but I knew that I wouldn't be seeking pleasure... (more)
the Spirit Alive:
What is Left of You After the Divorce War Dust Settles?
There are no
time-outs on a battlefield, with divorce or any other war.
Divorce wars don't end after the judge declares the divorce final.
They just begin. In some instances, the battles continue into the
next generation, especially if there are several children and
Women have to realize early that...(more)
The Lesbian Theory
"If you're not dating someone, people might think you're a lesbian," my mother proclaimed...
throwing dirty dishes into the sink, a little too hard, not quite hard
enough to break them but almost wishing for the release of shattering
glass. Of course I don't want to break my dishes, I'm just tired of
washing them all the time. Somehow my transition to stay-at-home mom is
missing a June Cleaver component that would keep me cheerful through the
end of the day. Maybe pearls would help...(more)
The Little Moron and the Manhole Cover
Like the Little Moron of the '40s and '50s who wanted to make a splash
on Broadway, I've come to Manhattan. How can I be so ambitious at age
sixty? I don't know. It comes naturally. Say I'm a sixty-year-old
moron who wants to make a splash, or at least a ripple. I want
attention, justification, epiphany, redemption. I want my books
I used to have a husband and three children. They are all gone now.
First he left, and I didn't know what to do. No one in my family had
ever gotten a divorce. A neighbor suggested I have a glass of wine
to calm down in the evening. I was three thousand miles away from my
natural family, and the unthinkable had happened. My husband had
found someone else. The children were 8 months, 18 months, and 8
Living Bridget Jones:
The Rise and Fall of the Ten-Point Plan
When a glowing and expectant mother turns to Bridget Jones at a dinner party and asks, "Why is it,
Bridget, that there are so many single women in their thirties now? Why is that?!" the plight of the
thirty-something single, professional woman is perfectly epitomized. Perhaps we don't look like Renee
Zellweger or work with the likes of Hugh Grant, but the popularity of Bridget Jones' Diary is a
my hands appeared smaller today,
could've been the florescent light of the graffiti-mean-streaked bathroom on the third floor,
coulda just been.
in there i like to narrow my eyes at the girl in the glass - the one who wears too much make-up
sometimes, sometimes not enough.
i do a little tap dance on those dirty tiles
breaking backs right and left.
the dangers of the bathroom stall creep in on mama's lips
don't sit down...(
My Life as a Body
In fifth and sixth grades we passed around spiral notebooks called "Slam Books." On each notebook
page there was a category - like "cutest couple" or "smartest boy." Nearly everyone made their own
notebook, and filling the pages with names from our classes took a lot of time, in class and on the
playground. A quiet, generally good kid, I sometimes saw my own name on the "nicest girl" page...
All day I worked on the run
in a room without windows
I used to work the cocktail shift at Vivaldi, an upscale
cafeteria-style eatery in the Financial District of San Francisco.
The shift started at five thirty and went till two a.m., when we
closed, but of course I couldn't leave at two, because I had to
cash out and tip the bartender, wipe all the tables and empty
ashtrays. That was after a full day of...(more)
As I was finishing my master's degree in London, I had the idea that
I should try another country instead of rushing back to the United
States like all my classmates seemed to be doing. "I just can't
wait to go shopping at Target," one girl used to say as
graduation approached. People like her spent their days in London...(more)
The small rise
in my belly
and a hospital bed...
Worth More Than Words
In a matter of
months I will be exiting my twenties and weaving the rest of my
story as a 30+ year old. I have a photo album project sitting under
my coffee table right now that gives a brief summary of my journey
thus far. I finally have the photos in chronological order and I'm
labeling each one.
It's not the dates or places I remember easily. As I glance
picture day at Walmart, and my neighbor, Beth, and I are
going to get pictures taken of our babies. I am planning to
send one to Jack's parents to show them the grandchild they
have never acknowledged. Melanie is crying with hunger, and
the phone is chirping at me. Instead of ignoring the phone,
as I should...(more)
Pissing Like a Man
"I can't," I say to my
husband, Mike, as he offers me a beer across the
"Why not? The kids are asleep for the
night. Have another beer, relax."
"It's not that," I
say as I squirm in my folding chair. "I have to
Mike points to the woods surrounding our
campsite. "Pick a tree, any tree. The woods are your
"I can't," I repeat.
"Well, I can,"
my husband says. He nonchalantly rises, puts his beer down,
walks into the woods, and relieves himself.
late June, and unusually hot and humid for this time of year
in central New Jersey. Our roaring campfire only adds
unnecessarily to the heat. My cheeks feel red and flushed.
I'm crave liquid refreshment. Foolishly determined to avoid
the need to urinate, I remain parched.
six-year hiatus from camping, my husband and I had decided
to be spontaneous and take the kids, 5-year-old Olivia, and
2-year-old Jared, on their first ever outdoor adventure. We
hadn't been camping since before I first became pregnant.
But camping trips used to be part of an annual summer ritual
for us. We'd blow off steam, escape into the woods, and get
in touch with nature.
It is to my great
embarrassment that I admit that I'm not quite as "in touch
with nature" as I wanted to think. I'm a grown woman,
mother of two, who enjoyed camping for more than a decade,
and yet I have never urinated in the woods...
Place Where I Live
Cockroaches come out in the dark of night when no one is watching.
They scurry about your countertop and hide again in the day and you
may not even know that they are there. So you answer the ad in the
classifieds for the one-bedroom apartment available immediately
utilities included $900 a month. You marvel at your luck because...(more)
The day I graduate
from college, I will make my smooth transition into international
super-stardom. Failing that, I will join a nomadic band of
hunter-gatherers. It's good to have a back-up plan. It's also good
to have a stack of one-liners stockpiled to use against...(more)
Shared Living Space
A New Old Way for the New Older Woman
By the time I was 55,
I had been married twice and involved in a several
significant relationships. My children were grown and off on
their personal journeys. I lived alone and sometimes was
lonely, but I had no desire to ever marry again or share a
home with a lover. I worked, supported myself adequately,
and owned a comfortable place to live. Finances weren't
tight right then but had been in the past, and, as I got
older, I knew they could be tight again. My situation was
such that I could have muddled on for some time, living
alone, worrying a little about money and personal safety,
and over scheduling myself so that I wouldn't feel lonely
"Did you ever hear from that guy we met last time?" my friend Joyce asked as we sped along
the highway to a get-together of the Senior Singles.
"No," I mumbled, signaling to a pass a small car poking along. How could I tell her
that I'd had four dates with him and fallen deeply in love?...
When I was pregnant, I could have eaten a dozen eggs at
once, if someone had indulged my greed, and still been hungry for cave
woman food: bear fat, mammoth steaks, clay, great handfuls of loamy
black dirt. That hunger is an impenetrable mystery women share. Also,
too, is the sickness, the nausea that comes from the boiling, beating
potency growing within us, the power that thrusts burnt coppery fumes
through our throats, the force that demands so much that we can hardly
stand from exhaustion...(more)
Wide open spaces --
wide open wind --
fifteen iced winters,
fifteen vacant years,
I fell down
in the farmhouse,
my father's black
farmhouse & my mother's flat
silence, my father's dull
beatings, my dull blackened skin
alloyed with the cold...
Talk About Envy
Did you know you can ride your bike for a full day along Interstate 80
in western Utah and not find one bush or even a ditch for
Tamoxifen Tonight - Flashes and Flashbacks
It's 11:00 P.M. and I wash down a Tamoxifen tablet and begin the
determined preparations for sleep. Before breast cancer, before I found
the lump, before the surgery, and before these pills meant to starve the
tumor, sleep was not an undertaking but an effortless pleasure. Closing
my eyes at night, I would deeply and blissfully slumber... (more)
Jane's voice has always been the most beautiful thing about her. It's a
jewel of a voice, framed by the unpretentious setting of her stooping
figure, her lined face. When she was younger and people still fell in
love with her, it was her voice rather than her body that they praised.
Even her friends agreed that there was something special about her
voice, something mesmerizing...(
Staring at the cracks in my ceiling, I start to think that taking up drinking again
wouldn't be a bad idea. To try one more time to be good at drinking. Really good. ...
To Match, or not to Match? That is His Question
"This woman is amazing," my significant other comments from his
place beside me on the sofa. "Why can't you do this?"...
was mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. I was very happy where I was. It was
warm. It was safe. There was chocolate. There were Cheese-Doodles.
And the covers felt really good over my head.
Then the phone rang.
It was my friend Mark calling to console me. I'd been dumped. By a guy
who wasn't nearly good enough for me. By a guy who treated me like
shit. Yet there I was weeping as if he were chocolate incarnate. It
Recently I came to
a decision that has invited an onslaught of adjectives, chief among
them masochistic, foolish, rash, and hasty. I've also been told
that I am visionary, prudent, and a savvy investor. Twenty-four,
unmarried, and largely unskilled in manual labor, I've decided to
buy an old house that needs a lot of work in a neighborhood best
referred to, in real estate parlance, as -Up and Coming.Š...(more)
Where the Troubles Lie
Moving is rarely fun. My husband tried to convince me that the new job seven hundred miles
away would add an important paragraph to his resume. Uprooted after twenty years, I felt
like a tree downed by lightning. The only consolation was the garden that came with the
house we found. Planted when the house was young, it looked like an old park thirty
years later. Tall pines and stately magnolias were interspersed with azaleas that
exploded in lavender and red in the spring. The greatest attraction was a formal
garden, complete with brick walks and boxwood enclosures. I envisioned it as a
full-fledged herb garden, a dream I had nurtured since cultivating herbs...
Wants To Marry A Millionaire?
There's an old
expression that if you marry for money, you'll wind up earning every
cent of it. Another saying advises that it's just as easy to fall in
love with a rich man as a poor one. But the way I see it, the
problem is frame of reference. We need to start teaching our
daughters to become millionaires on their own...(more)
Why IS it that...I didn't just hire a surrogate?
In this age of
convenience, why on earth do most women bother to bear their own
children? My theory is that the horrors of childbirth are purposely
hidden from us girls until we have already gotten ourselves in that age
I have just
realized that nobody wants to hear about my life story, sad though I
think it might be, nor do they care about how brave I think I am
some mornings just for getting out of bed. I discovered this
chilling fact after searching diligently for a magazine to print my
article. I soon came to realize there isn't a single magazine
entitled "Woe 'R Us" much less one dedicated to the
pursuit of tales about old chicks with sad pasts...(more)
Working Woman pauses
before her day begins
seated at a small round table in a cafe
coffee cup held half way to her lips
she dreams the door opens wide
as wide as her heart
this day when the
daffodils are so bright
in their yellow jackets
she cannot help but smile...