The “B” word

I am becoming more aware of generational differences since my mother moved back into the area Fall 2014. For example, the number of medical and general maintenance appointments triples after a certain age. Last week we went to a mani-pedi appointment which sounds like a luxury but is actually essential when one cannot see one’s nails. We participated in a two hour opthamology appointment with a one hour follow-up two days later.

I noticed that my mother’s concept of age has telescoped through the years. She talks about women in their nineties as if they are in a completely different generation than her own. It is hard for her to fathom that anyone is capable of functioning past 90. She acts as if 90 is decades away from her own age of 87. At the other end, she describes 85 year olds as “younger women”.  I am barely pubescent at 60.

This brings me to a conversation during peer supervision at work last week. There are nine clinicians, three men and six women. Our ages range from staff in their 30′s to staff in their 60′s. No one in between with the exception of our new male clinician, Bill who is 45 years old. For some reason we were talking about the word “bitch”. It would really help if I could remember how the subject arose, but that is another story. My supervisor, age 65, stated that she really dislikes the word and will not use it for any reason. It’s offensive, she said. I nodded my head. I use it as the female version of asshole. The younger women said that they don’t find bitch offensive at all.  In fact, they use it as a compliment. As in being in touch with one’s inner bitch or one’s true strong self. It is the opposite of ladylike which is not a compliment and denotes subservience to the male sex.

Then I happened to watch Richard Pryor last night who did a riff about visiting Africa. It was a life-changing experience. He was overwhelmed by the sheer number of black people.  Pryor said we were the first people and that has been verified by white anthroplogists. Then he said there are no n…..s in Africa. He made a pact with himself to no longer use the “n” word which he famously used for all of his career until that moment.

I don’t know if there are parallels between the “b” word and the “n” word. Clearly, language is used to codify and oppress others. Sometimes it helps to own it and sometimes you are just playing into the man’s hand. I should mention that I also watched a Downton Abbey episode which has been highlighting the female characters’ emergence from carefully prescribed subjugation to male dominance. They are coming into their own inner bitches.

Je Suis Charlie

I have been following the news about the massacre of 12 people in the french satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” in Paris two days ago. We are now being told that the terrorists who committed this horror have been killed after being holed up in some small town north of Paris. Allegedly, they were offended by the graphic cartoons depicting Mohammed and followers in unflattering  ways. We know this because the Charlie Hebdo office has endured many threats and was fire-bombed in 2011. Unflattering might be an understatement. I have not seen the cartoons, only heard descriptions by journalists who debate the ethics of publishing offensive and possibly xenophobic material.

If the cartoons satirize religion and not an ethnic group, then I say satirize away. I imagine that god, in my version of god, would strongly encourage that all religions need a good shake-up on a regular basis. That goes for politics, which is very much like religion. You can never have enough freedom of expression, analysis, debate and and especially satire when it comes to these denizens of power.

I was in Paris a few months ago with my daughter. Viva la France. Viva liberte.

The Winter Saga Begins


The plow truck safely parked in the barn. We had an episode this morning. Craig set out to plow the driveway after last night’s storm. We got 11 inches of snow. I saw him walking up the road which is not a good sign. The truck was stuck. Tommy wrote the book “My Dad Got Stuck”. And he tried, and he tried and he tried and then he got unstuck. It’s a good story. We drove back down the driveway in the blue truck. Tried pulling it out using the truck’s power. The plow truck tires just dug in deeper. Craig says that the road has not properly hardened so he was not able to get good traction. We went back up the driveway to retrieve the winch. Hank road shotgun. He provides a lot of emotional support. This time Craig was successful and the plow truck emerged from it’s snow cave as if nothing had happened.

I love the snow. You would think that by this time and after the many trials and tribulations through the years of stuck vehicles, storms, loss of electricity and just the elaborate maneuvering it takes to get out of the house I would prefer a sunnier climate. Last night I was driving home from work and the snow was so soft and light that it made me feel blissful. I walked into my warm and welcoming home and thanked everyone (you know god, goddesses, earth mother) for winter.