Monthly Archives: December 2014

Oh, you Sweetie

Within the last 2 days, I called two different females “Sweetie.” One was a little girl on a bike who I accidentally startled by walking up behind her on a public sidewalk where she’d momentarily stopped. I thought she’d seen me but to be sure I said “hi” just as I came alongside to pass. To my surprise, the grade school age child, dressed in bright pink, started in alarm, and threw up small fists in front of her. I was impressed with the defensive posture – one I’ve never learned (boxing?) – and would not think to do the same in similar circumstances. (If I think something is headed my way I quite likely duck my head and put my hands in front of my face. And not typically because I think strangers are going to deck me on the sidewalk.) I felt bad for scaring her and hastily offered a smile and apology.

The other was an office administrative aid – who was possibly coming down with the flu – and yet took the time to be decent to me, someone who she’d never met before. I wanted her to know I appreciated her time and attention, and as another woman, empathized with the fact she didn’t feel good. After, I hoped she would not have seen it as demeaning in any way.

So what’s this about? I have noticed I started occasionally using the endearment Sweetie in recent years, quite likely coinciding with middle age. I have begun to feel protective toward younger women. I think that’s what I feel anyway. Not patronizing. I assure you, it’s not that! (My quick-to-defend position stems from the fact that I think the female gender gets patronized enough, and god knows, I have been on the receiving end aplenty.)

When other women have kindly (not rudely or belittlingly) called me “Sweetie” in the past, I liked it. At least that’s how I remember it. I know a favorite Aunt used the endearment in cards written to me when I was a little girl. She didn’t have children of her own and was kind and generous to her many nieces & nephews. (As a conservative, religious person, she wasn’t all that crazy with how I turned out – pretty sure those “Sweetie’s” dried up around the time I was in my teens – but nonetheless, that doesn’t take away from the earlier thoughtfulness and affection.)

“Sweetie” seems, when said kindly, well-intentioned. When women address one another with gentleness, it creates a kind of solidarity, a way of saying we’re looking out for one another. Maybe the key to its effectiveness is an age gap? It works best when said from older to younger? Or at least same age? If a 30 year old woman addressed a 60 year old woman of sound mind as “Sweetie” would it inherently sound disrespectful?

“Sweetie” said by a man to someone who is not his wife, girlfriend, or daughter, takes on a rather different note, a patriarchal superiority, whether he intends it or not. A strange man calls me “Sweetie” (or “Honey”) and I bristle. (I can’t think of one instance where a strange man addressed me as “Sweetie” and it didn’t sound patronizing, belittling, or otherwise out of turn.)

I do, I should note, call men “Sweetie” too but I think the distinction there is that I know them first. Perhaps in time that will change, when I grow old enough to be sure that no endearment from me could possibly be misconstrued; my first thought being with sexual connotations but now that I think about it, also to avoid any emasculating interpretations.

5 Things That Define Me

(I’m taking this idea/suggestion from a post on Story Time With John)

1. Humor. Looking for the humor in things, both wanting always to be amused whether by books, movies, or people; as well as being funny to entertain myself and others. I’ve said it before, but I know when I lose my humor – about anything, whether it’s a person or a situation – it’s a huge red flag to me that things are seriously out-of-whack. Humor makes life tolerable.

2. Nature. I feel like I am my best self when I’m outdoors, in nature. When I first heard of Thoreau and Emerson in a college literature class, I felt these are my boys. I’d never heard of transcendentalism before then but immediately recognized I’d had that experience – sublime moments in nature where everything seems to come together, the purpose is clear, and all is right with the world. (This doesn’t happen a lot but even lesser experiences are well worth it to me. Being in nature is both immensely calming and invigorating. It suits my strong desire to be unrestricted, unhampered, “free” if you will.)

3. Connection. A powerful drive to have meaningful, substantial connections with other people. I can experiences actual “highs” from being with other people – specific people that is – that leave me feeling euphoric and uplifted; my mind buzzing away with thoughts and ideas. That is the best.

4. Understanding, characterized by a lifelong penchant for asking questions. I have a real need to find meaning in life, in events that have happened, in relationships I’ve had, and what we’re all doing here. I want truth.

5. Creativity and expression. I’ve been making stuff since I first had crayons and construction paper. The materials have changed but the desire to transform materials, whether for usefulness or art, is one of the things which makes me happiest. I include writing here because it’s my rawest, truest form of self-expression (I think so anyway).

Shedding a “little” light on it

What lurks in the heart of the 3-way bulb?

What lurks in the heart of the 3-way bulb?

I have never had any luck with incandescent 3-way light bulbs (yes, I still have a smattering of incandescents, and no, I’m not hoarding them like some people. You should see the crazed discussions online, like Amazon: give me life, liberty and my incandescent bulbs – I’m pretty sure that’s in the Constitution.).

From talking to people in real life, I know I’m not the only one to have a pricey 3-way bulb soon become a 1-way, invariably leaving only the crappiest wattage in working order, typically a 50-watt.

I’ve had a 3-way incandescent bulb successfully working on a lamp for about a year now. I believe this is a personal best. Each time I’ve made it go through its 3 paces, I’ve been kind of surprised but pleased like getting a present. However, I moved the lamp the other day and now the bulb is flickering and suggesting it’s ailing. Sometimes I feel like I should just take a 3-way bulb and smash it just to get the inevitable over with. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the right attitude.

Dream 8 (Tom Brokaw)

I dreamt I was walking down the sidewalk near a commercial area. I realized Tom Brokaw was on the sidewalk headed the same direction I was. I caught pace alongside because I wanted to speak to him. In part I wanted to tell him how I liked the American Stories radio series he does. To tell him how concise and accessible I find them.

But then I spied a pair of cute women’s flats by the curb. I really needed attractive, low-heeled shoes, and without hesitation, ran over to check out the shoes. They were a lovely butterscotch shade of brown and appeared to be about my size and in good condition. I flipped one of them over to look at the sole and was disappointed to discover the heel was badly worn, so I left them.

Because I’d let myself be distracted by the shoes, Tom Brokaw was far ahead on the sidewalk now and I ran to catch up, thinking I’d missed my chance to talk to him.

Short Thought 96 (fertility)

My mother’s mother, i.e. my grandmother, was one of 17 – yes, that’s 17 – children, including 5 – my god, 5 – sets of twins. This information, like a lot of things heard or learned as a child, went essentially unquestioned. Only when I was older, did I try to think about what having 17 children would even mean. I still don’t know how to think about this. Part of me doesn’t entirely believe it. How did they feed them?? Where did they keep them?? I know they didn’t have money.

I do know that in my prime child-bearing years when I did NOT want to accidentally get pregnant, I never ever forgot that I descended from, shall we say, fertile stock.

Things Men Have Said To Me (#16)

Years ago when I was in a park studying, a man I didn’t know walked by and we ended up having a conversation. He said he was divorced.

HIM (somewhat bitterly): “When you get married you think you’re going to have sex all the time. But it’s not like that at all.”

Short Thought 95 (microwave ovens)

I have never much liked it when I was visiting somewhere and either the host or I put a plate into their microwave and I saw that inside the oven looked like a disgusting, encrusted mess. I’ve never said anything – I know this isn’t the sort of thing you’re supposed to mention when in the role of proper guest – but I always hate having my nice, clean food being in such close proximity to gnarly old muck.