Friday, May 29, 2009

97%

There is a book series by Alexander McCall Smith called the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. It is set in Botswana and is about a woman of ‘traditional’ build who inherits a bunch of cattle when her father dies and decides to open up a detective agency. It’s a warm series, made to make you feel good about simple life, simple things. Recently, HBO picked up the series, and it stars the beautiful Jill Scott as Precious Ramostwe and the wonderful Anika Noni Rose (of Dreamgirls fame) as her ‘side-kick’, Grace Makutsi.

Grace is a dowdy kind of girl who attended the Botswana Secretarial College where she excelled and earned 97% for her final grade, a record in that college. But, she often remarks that women who scored 40% but wear short skirts and allow their male boss to chase them around the desk are far more successful that she is. There was a beautiful scene where Grace is talking to her HIV-positive brother about a run-in with one such girl. Grace was caught on her hands in knees trying to catch a dog when one such girl she went to school with is dressed to the nines in a short skirt and a fancy handbag and brags that she has a fabulous position and her boss takes care of her. Grace tells her brother that she was rude to the girl but felt badly about how she reacted. Her brother, who is very ill at this point, says ‘you’ll do better than all of them’. And you can tell that Grace wants to believe it.

I am Grace Makutsi. I too have lived in this delusion that if I work hard and obey {most of} the rules that I will be rewarded for all my hard work and sacrifice. I am learning on a very personal level a very difficult lesson--- in this day and age, women in short skirts being chased around are still getting further than I am. And I don't know what to do.

I went to undergrad with a girl, who made it a point to use her charm and good looks to get ahead. She would befriend a nerdy male in every difficult class and basically use him to get extra help---letting him fall madly in love with her then dumping him at the end of the semester. You know the type. I knew she did this, however, when my friend M fell under her spell in one of our classes, I said nothing. My punishment for my silence was a devastated M at the semester end who became deeply depressed and suicidal, needing to seek serious professional help. Thanks be to Jesus he pulled out of it, but it was a sin I never forgave that girl for, because there are just some men that it should be a crime to abuse. M had a kind spirit. He did not deserve that.

You can imagine my surprise when I report to my new job a year and a half ago and find out that this same girl managed to get her PhD and had a very cushy position at a neighboring base. I was appalled, but say nothing, assuming that A) she is down the road (out of sight/out of mind) and B) she is tasked to do other things differently from our mission so we should never really run into each other. Wishful thinking.

Lately, we have been needing to deal with her and all of her insanity. We (my group) have found that some of her practices are highly questionable, but when we called her on it, (and by 'we' I mean my work group as a collective), she pulled a male out of her hat--a particularly powerful male that is pretty high up in the food chain. And suddenly demeanor changes around here, general pissiness and vows to have her head and/or make sure she pays are replaced by grumbling silence. She has obviously bought this protection somehow (and intra base grumblings are pointing to her old ways—old dogs, old tricks) and it leaves me feeling vomitous. I am fucking sick about all of this.

It truly makes me wonder why I worked so hard back in undergrad or grad school. It makes me wonder why I work so hard now. But, being the bigger person, (literally and figuratively) I am opting to continue on with my job, do the best I can without trying to pay much attention to her. But then grumblings in the hall of ‘guess who got a multi-million dollar project to do XYZ?’ are uttered, it takes everything in me not to go postal.

I look at my infant daughter, so naïve and unsuspecting. We all tell ourselves that we will tell our children that they should always do their best and the right thing and they will be rewarded. But as I see that iron cocoon 10 miles down the road over a woman who calls everyone sweetie while flashing a flirtatious smile, it almost makes me wonder why bother to lie to Radha. I should tell her the truth. There are times when you work your ass to the bone and all you have to show for it is a boney ass. There are times that you KNOW women will sometimes use their charms to get ahead, but doing the right thing means it's better to be able to sleep with your conscience at night, even if it means that your reward does not come. At night, when I put my daughter to bed, I pray for her safety and good health. I pray that she will be a good person and that she is deliriously happy. I whisper that the world is truly beautiful now that she is in it.

This woman also has a young daughter... I wonder what she whispers to her before she puts her to bed at night.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Molly Fucking Sunshine

When I was in high school, my 'friend' Ronda exclaimed to me one day "You are the most negative person I know, Reese!"

To put this in perspective, I grew up in a town of about 5,000, so she really didn't KNOW all that many people. But that being said, I still don't know what I said to invoke that particular response from her. I remember being really pissed because I thought I was pretty pleasant and upbeat for the most part.

Lately I seem to be hearing Ronda's voice (all whiny and condescending) now that I am in Facebook hell being reunited (and it feels so good--not) with some people from my past.

One particular girl who I didn't really like all that much but our mothers were friends was all like "Hey Reese, how the HELL have you been, girl? It's been ages."

So, I wrote her a quick note to tell her how the hell I have been.

...And the equivalent of crickets chirping was her reply.

I KNOW people don't want to be slammed with DBL news in their happy, innocent inbox. But, for fuckssake, if you ASK how I am, I will TELL YOU how I am. I am doing ok, but I have had a rough year. Thank you for telling me that my daughter is beautiful and I am blessed, but, can I pretty please put my 'perfect' life in perspective? Thanks ever so much.

Then It occurred to me that honesty can be perceived as negativity. I think that is what happened with Ronda. If my memory serves, she asked how I was doing in the hall that particular day and I said I had a bad day. And gosh darn it, it was not what she wanted to hear.

People gush about Radha and I want to immediately mention Ronan but I am shushed like an old woman shushing me in church. I am finding that people want to do this hand waving thing. Look at your DAUGHTER and don't mention your SON for Chrissakes! It makes people FEEL bad.

That so?

I am not a good faker, people. My grad school mentor told me once that I wore my emotions on my sleeve. To which I said "why the hell should I hide how I feel from you?" He just shook his head.

I mean, I get it. I work for 'powerful' men. I know how to hold my tongue and not to cry--basic essentials to being a woman.

But if you ask how I am....I am grateful for her and forever missing him.

I don't think there is anything wrong with saying that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Philly Bound

Work is sucking.

Big time.

Some day over a tequila I will babble the ridiculousness I have had to endure in the last 2 weeks. It has to do with an evil red-head and the flu.

I have a conference in Philly next week.....Thank God!

Hotel sheets, here I come!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Saving Private Reese

It starts out a little choppy. Like the boat ride before we get to the beach.

I manage to get my foot on the sand and then I hear the first shot. I am under attack. Memories come whirling past me like bullets.

That first night in the room after everyone had left for the night, Peyton closed the door, walked up to me and I sobbed like a little girl as held me tight.

I hit the ground, but it is a storm all around me.

He had Peyton's feet. A tiny replica of Peyton's feet.

It's the hormones. I can feel the familiar tightening of my uterus. I am on a pill that does this to me twice a month.

I lie on the ground and pray for a cease-fire.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Like a Virgin--

It was a gigantic steam bucket in the JC Penney's studio this afternoon. My MIL wanted us to get one of those family portraits, you know the ones that looks something like this:





Swearing the whole time that we would look 1,000 times better than everyone else ever did in these freakin' things.

We sat in weird positions, my MIL, FIL, BIL, and SIL, Peyton, me and Radha---all wearing blue jeans and a shade of some sort of blue in our shirts. Radha had just eaten and was being cooperative for the camera, and we all were misty and red cheeked from the heat as the young girl snapped us in several, mostly unflattering positions. Peyton and I were asked if we wanted to sit alone with Radha for a pic, and I agreed to a couple mostly to appease my MIL. But in all honesty, when I envisioned ourselves taking these kind of pictures, I saw us outdoors, in clothing that we liked to wear, looking as natural as we could.

We snapped one where we were teetering our huge asses on tiny benches, my 2-baby pregnancy belly hanging out, and one where Peyton and I were staring at Radha staring at the camera. That was the most flattering one, so I decided to buy it.

"You should get the 8 x10," my MIL stated, "Get the big one since it is your first mother's day,"

I looked at her and paused, but she did not see her error.

"It's your first mother's day, so you should splurge!" she repeated again.

I looked at her again. She was still not getting it.

I sighed, ordered the 8x10 and decided to let it go, but it gnawed at me all day.

You know. IT.

I was a mother last Mother's day too. My son just happened to die.

I know she wasn't thinking about that, and I am inclined to give her a pass since she has been particularly good about remembering Ronan with charms and balloon releases on his birth date in January and so forth. But, seriously, I don't really think this is semantics, (but maybe unique in my thinking), but when Ronan was born, I became a mother...end of story.

How do women who lose older children handle Mother's Day? Are they no longer a mother because their child dies? Is there a statute of limitations of how long the child has to be alive in order to be considered a mother? What do you all think? What truly constitutes the definition of a mother?