Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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WOMAN – OCTOBER – 2016

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I am different this month. And if I am different then millions of women are different this month. I am one of many and I am never alone. I am woman and I am different this month.

I am different because two weeks ago the Milford Readers and Writers festival happened. It happened in the town I love and I was one of the organizers. I am different because I listened to Gloria Steinem, up on the stage and in front of the logo I had designed. I am different because my long-in-the-works book, Stupid Model, was published and I sold fifty copies over three days. I am different because I was doing it with all with my friends. I am different because for those few days I felt centered and within myself.

I read a passage from my book to a room full of women and they laughed and applauded. They heard me and we connected. This changed me. Then it was over, my old and new friends went home, I tidied up the house and I too went home, leaving my home behind.

I am different now from who I was then. And I am different from who I was in September.

Together with millions of others I am restless. I am anxious. I am provoked. I am angry and I want the world to be different.

Is it true that change brings up everything unlike itself?

Together with an entire generation (or two) of women I have been forced to remember things that I had forgotten. Or had marginalized. Things that became threads woven into the fabric that made me into who I am today. Those small things that grab us and make us a little less proud. A little less confident. A little less…

I always fought when they happened. After being a scared, weepy child I stood up for myself when I walked away from my youth at age seventeen. To Paris where I fought the men who groped me on the Metro, followed me in the street clucking and whistling, took me to dinner stroking my thigh under the table while talking business with colleagues above the white linen, silver, china and crystal. I fought the photographers who demeaned me over and over and, on my last day, I physically attacked the ultimate misogynist, a famous couturier who had me thrown out of Paris.

Illustration from Stupid Model in Paris and Down Under

from Stupid Model in Paris and Down Under

Perhaps I fought because my mother fought. Fought her own demons. From the German soldiers who had controlled her town and her family when she was a teenager, the ghost of my father who drove his car into a tree and left her alone with me, a two-year-old babe, to my stepfather who was controlling and abusive and after fifteen years absconded with one of her younger friends.

I fought because those were the days that we “fought back”. A clinched fist was our symbol. Don’t fuck with us. But who were we kidding? When you could not be anywhere alone without at least one man grabbing you wherever he liked, metaphorically and physically.

I fought my way to success. I was ambitious they said, like a dirty word, dirtier than pussy and grab. Subconsciously, I learned to use sexism in a game of exchange that couldn’t be won. Like fake promises it never delivered that moment of pure achievement, because in the shadows there was always a baritone boasting – you’d be nothing if it wasn’t for me, and I can undo you.

October 2016. Women. What the fuck?

Did we really think it would come easy?

Just as it seems within reach we have to conquer our past and slay our ultimate dragon and not just metaphorically. He’s real and he looms, lies, interrupts, gropes, intimidates, demeans and threatens. Bitch is only one letter away from Witch, the she-devil, burn her at the stake, whipped into a frenzy the fearful-of-change masses promise to end her, cheering…

Change brings up everything unlike itself.

(I wonder if my daughters look at my rage the same way I look at my husband when he loses his shit in the car at the guy who just cut him off.)

It may not seem like it to the next generation, and it may not feel like it to us right now, but we have come a long way. And when Hillary is president our daughters will soon take it for granted and move on. That’s what change does: it sets the stage for more change, and they have plenty to do.

And we will have some laurels to rest on. Hopefully we can finally forget what we are feeling now, in October 2016, the fear that he can undo us. But remembering and standing together and visualizing holding hands with all women everywhere, yes, also the ones who wear T-shirts that say He Can Grab This >, we will undo him and finally allow ourselves to feel that sense of pure achievement.

LINK to STUPID MODEL:

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happiness – a luxury product

photo: iona gordon

photo: iona gordon

OK. so. this has little to do with me doing miami. but. its been on my mind, like second foremost, after TB. a friend sent me a link this morning to a study. about women and happiness, and apparently women are getting less happy all the time, even as i write this. when i get a link like that i always look who wrote it. M or F. check box. when its M i pretend that the study was conducted and written, not by say Madeleine Albright, Gloria Steinum or Hilary Clinton but by my husband. so. lets ask him if i appear happier then when we were first together, and he’ll probably tell you that he doesn’t think so. ask me and i will tell you that i am, just about one million thousand and three times happier now than twenty years ago. i still love him madly. i adore my kids. i just bitch more now, cause there is more to bitch about. then ask me what would make me  happier than, say yesterday and my answer would be:
1. if he remembered, after 15 years, that wednesday is garbage day. 2. if he put his cereal boxes back after use. 3. if he talked less about models  4. if i could make time to do some lucrative work/not feel so guilty about no longer being the superduper #1 breadwinner. 5. if i wasn’t constantly reminded by everything, TV, the supermarket, my kids, my job, my gay neighbors, other moms, ads on buses, billboards and facebook, that i’m no longer somewhere between the most fabulous, gorgeous, sexy age of 30-40. 6. I would definitely be happier if i could be less politically correct and not worry about swearing in front of playdates, enjoy secondary smoke, get drunk, get stoned, flirt outrageously, drive too fast in a snazzy car, leave the kids at home alone to hang with my friends more often, use plastic bags at the supermarket, drink lots of little bottles of Poland Spring (that have been in my hot car for weeks), worry less about hunger in africa, obama, peace/war, scream at rude teachers, actually really slap my neighbor, eat without thinking about what and how much, use aerosol sunblock on the kids, feed them high fructose corn syrup because its in EVERYTHING, did not have to kid-compete with other mothers/get them into the “gifted” program asap or else they’ll fail as human beings, and make a mess, and fall on my face and just screw up completely occasionally (and know that i’ll be ok). the other thing i think when i read happiness studies is al those women in the third world who hold a starving child to their chest.  not for one minute do they wonder how happy they are on a scale from 1-5. they may wonder how totally fucked they are on a scale from 1-5. and when i read the results of these pop-studies i reckon we, the lucky ones, score  a big fat 5 on the scale of increased privileged fuckedupness.