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By Jennifer Maher.
Resolve, The National Infertility Association of America, lists a variety of emotional and physical symptoms in response to not getting pregnant when you want to get pregnant. They include but are not limited to:
- Lack of energy (especially when you have an unsuccessful cycle, on medical appointment days, or when you will see a pregnant friend);
- Irritability (snapping at people or making mountains out of molehills)
- Extreme sadness
- Inability to concentrate
Shoplifting is nowhere on this list.
Yet in the nearly three years it took me to conceive, along with over $22,000 in home-refinancing and credit card debt, I also acquired the following:
- One black large-ring pullback belt with double buckle
- A boxy caramel suede jacket with fringe on the front pockets and hem
- Decadent Fig, Orchid Surrender, and Cheating Heart lipstick (Estee Lauder)
- Two bottles of 2006 Chalone Vineyard Pinot Noir
- The complete boxed set of My So-Called-Life
Much like infertility, shoplifting requires a certain kind of seat-of-your-pants creativity. Some seasoned lifters, for instance, line empty bags with aluminum foil to get past the door sensors; others rig bags with springs or wear enormous coats with hand-sewn secret pockets inside. Whatever the method of concealment, though, recreational shoplifting has long been considered an archetypal feminine vice, an impulsive pilfering of the phallus and the mirror image of castration anxiety. Secreting a skin cream in the feminine folds of your purse couldn’t be more obvious in this respect. Or imagine a necklace up your coat-sleeve, its laminated price tag held fast like a nascent IUD. Think about the fact that just this year in a South Carolina outlet mall, they arrested a woman with over $1700 dollars’ worth of stolen clothes in an empty infant car seat. Continue Reading…
We’ve had a parting of ways of late. Two pregnancies and two breastfed babies later, you’ve decided to de-friend me and befriend gravity, forcing me to heftily rely on and rendering me beholden to the much-needed sturdy, non-sexy bras that no woman wants to be seen buying, because you are well on your way to touching my toes. However, in spite of your impudence and your defiant desire to move in directions that my twenty-something year old former self would never have imagined, we now stand at a crossroads in my mid-thirties, both literally and figuratively. I could scream, rant and rave, putting the best plastic surgeons on speed dial, or I could sit back and accept my new udder-like image.
In truth, loving you was never easy. When younger, a washboard chest was not as enviable as was having washboard abs. Then, a few years into adolescence, you grew overnight. Having only really only ever known A grades, I was suddenly confronted with the letter D, the upside of which was that I garnered the favour of copious amounts of male attention. I often wondered if you were my friends or my foes. In the end, you became the best ‘wingmen’ a gal could ever ask for. Many dates, some good and many bad later, I found myself in the arms of the man I wanted to and ended up marrying, a self-confessed breast man, who worshipped at the altar of my beckoning bosom.
By Lisa McElroy.
It turns out that, when you’re writing your first novel, finding a hook is crazy hard. How can you capture a reader’s interest in the first few pages? How can you make her relate to your characters? How can you reel her in, keeping her on the line, guiding her expertly into your net, all the while making her think it was her own idea?
It was my own career teaching writing that brought me to question what I really knew about the process.
Since 2001 – for almost all of what I perceive to be my adult life – I’ve been instructing students on the art of legal writing. To teach first year law students to write is to teach communication, the kind that future lawyers need to develop to represent clients, help them solve their problems, convince courts to rule in their favor. Legal writing is highly structured, nearly formulaic in some instances. But as many legal scholars have discussed, it is also storytelling of a very high degree. A good attorney must find a way to tell a client’s story that draws the reader in, holds her interest, and – most importantly – evokes sympathy and understanding for the client’s plight.
It’s a lot like writing a novel – or a novella, at the very least.
Every fall, when a new crop of students sits down in my classroom, eager to learn, I realize for what seems like the first time that legal writing is, while natural to me, overwhelmingly difficult for students who do not know the lingo or the structure or the strategy that make up a simple memo to the file, a motion for summary judgment. The rules – and a certainty about when to break the rules – are all brand new, mysterious, seemingly ungraspable.
“Hi, Avery,” I heard my daughter’s friend, Crystal call out earlier this summer. Clad in pink tank shirt and blue skirt, Avery’s hair cupped her chin. Avery waved, and turned back to the music. Crystal and my daughter continued through the farmers market.
Avery? Last summer, Avery was Henry—about to enter kindergarten, just like Crystal and my daughter. “As soon as Crystal learned about Henry’s transition, she instantly switched not just name but pronoun, and has never made a mistake,” Crystal’s mom reported.
I wasn’t entirely surprised. Very small kids pose big gender questions: “Can boys be princesses? Why do girls get babies in their bellies?” By age five, however certain they are that boys are one way and girls another, perhaps they remain closer to more fluid, flexible notions of gender.
A small child’s interest in clothes “meant” for the opposite gender—the boy in the tutu, the girl who rejects all dresses—often passes, a “phase” dictated by a sense of style or by preferred activities, such as dance or monkey bars. Classic picture books like Charlotte Zolotow’s William’s Doll and newer ones, like Ian and Sarah Hoffman’s Jacob’s New Dress endeavor to make such explorations amongst very young children accepted (and acceptable). This takes conscious effort. For example at my house, where three sons preceded the daughter, I didn’t need to buy her a baby doll: we already had three, along with trucks and train tracks.
But what happens when a child declares, like Avery did, a territory beyond mere experimentation? What if the child’s experience is an authentic transition? How does a school respond, and how do friends rally?
I carry a myth. In the myth, I am 36 years old, and I meet my father at my mother’s funeral. Or, rather, at her wake. It is the designated family hour from three until four p.m., the one quiet span when only close family gathers to see the dead. The viewing, they call it. My mother in her casket, the casket she chose. And there is my father, a bearded stranger, pacing between rows of metal folding chairs, viewing her.
I actually met my father around my 18th birthday. His mother lived in my town, and though I’d had little to no contact with her over the years, she’d sent me a card with money in it for my high school graduation and, in lieu of writing her a thank you note, I called. She was thrilled, she said, to hear from me, and I remember feeling her warmth through the phone, the idea of her grandmotherly embrace, and somewhere during that call she asked if I’d like to come for a visit to look at some family photos and I asked where my father was and I said it rather boldly like, “Do you know where Lee Roy is these days?” feeling all grown up at age 18 and out of high school, and she said he was living right there in town, “right up the road!” and would I like to meet him, maybe next Sunday, at her house?
But what happened then? What of the details? Did he arrive first or did I? Did we shake hands, hug, stand back, study? Did we share a meal, a laugh, a Coca Cola? How can I not recall? How does a girl not remember meeting her father, not remember hearing his voice, for the very first time? And yet, the edges, they are so watery.
I met my father at my mother’s funeral. We shook hands. He pulled a business card from his wallet and wrote his number on the back in blue, ballpoint ink. He said, “Call us next time you’re in town,” and as he walked away I wondered, who is us?