Other days are still to come
are rising like bread
or waiting like chairs or a
pharmacopeia, or merchandise:
a factory of days in the making:
artisans of the soul
are building and weighing and preparing
days bitter or precious
that will knock at your door in due time
to award you an orange
or murder you in cold blood where you stand.
~Pablo Neruda, “Let’s Wait”
SO STOP ASKING HER TO. Never has the misogynistic idea “Women need to smile 24/7 for everyone in the world” been as pronounced as it is with Victoria Beckham. Literally EVERY photo I see of her, there’s a huge horde of men and women demanding, “Why doesn’t this woman ever smile? Why isn’t she smiling? Why won’t she just smile?”
NO. SHE DOESN’T WANT TO. So leave her alone. For god’s sake, what is this? I can rattle off literally dozens and dozens of male actors who don’t cheese for the camera regularly and either put on their “serious male face” or smile just a tiny bit by lifting their lips and not showing teeth (as Victoria usually does). And funnily enough, NO ONE—and I mean no one—ever demands to know ”Why isn’t [insert male celebrity’s name here] smiling?! Why doesn’t he ever smile? Smile!”
Victoria Beckham has an amazing sense of style and she’s a fashion icon. She appears to be happily married with some really cute kids who she does appear to love very much. She’s pretty private about her personal life but if you pay attention to her interviews, she’s a very sharp and candid woman at times, and she’s really intelligent. She’s a shrewd businesswoman who’s very successful in her ventures and projects. After reading some of her interviews, it’s easy to see that she’s a woman who knows what she wants in life and goes after it. And that, my friends, should be respected.
And yet—despite all these interesting things about this complex women—people just keep harping and harping and harping on the fact that she doesn’t want to grin at the cameras 24/7. MAYBE she doesn’t like the way her smile looks with teeth. MAYBE she doesn’t want to smile. Who cares what the reason is? WHY is it our business? Why does the world think Victoria Beckham owes us her smiles? Why, when it comes to females, does everyone think we have to constantly “smile, sweetheart” and yet men never get told this? I am so fed up with people telling women to smile 24/7 for absolutely no reason other than the fact that, yet again, society thinks women owe it something—like us grinning like happy plastic dolls day in and day out. And Victoria Beckham is a famous version of this. Again, I’ve never seen people demand for male celebrities to smile the way people keep demanding for her to smile and that really says something about how people think women should be acting.
No, Victoria Beckham will not smile for you, and you know what? That’s her right. So get the hell over it. If that’s literally the only thing about her you can focus on—ignoring all the other interesting things about her as a human being—then get lost. She doesn’t owe you anything.
I stumbled across this post by alwayslabellavita and it really struck a chord. It feels like I’ve spent my entire lifetime listening to men tell me to smile, Sweetheart. Complete strangers. Photographers, passersby, random men in bars—a world full of men who deem it their responsibility to be sure that I’ve got, as alwayslabellavita says, a “happy plastic doll” smile on my face at every fucking moment.
This makes me think of the primate grin of submission. You don’t have to be a primatologist to know what I’m talking about—we instinctively remember this expression in the idiom “grinning like a monkey.” Well, monkeys don’t grin to show happiness, they grin when they’re trying to show a dominant monkey that they understand their place. Please don’t hurt me, is what they’re trying to say.
I’m not exactly a Posh fan, but her refusal to smile just because it’s expected of her as a woman does make me respect her. And every time I give in and smile just because some man tells me to—because I don’t want to hear about what a maladjusted bitch I am if I don’t—it makes me respect me a little less.
Okay, usually I’m pretty honest with the people in my life. Blunt, maybe to a fault.
But I’ve been delicate, for me, about expressing my opinions to my coworker, D, about her godawful taste in music.
You might be thinking this doesn’t impact me, really, so why bother to bring it up at all? Well maybe you don’t work somewhere where people are allowed to play their own music. That would be my guess.
Imagine, though, that you are working at your desk and through a concrete wall you hear your coworker’s music as loudly as if you were playing it on your own computer.
Now imagine that music is Elton John.
I think we can all see my point. (If you are one of the very few people who can’t see my point, you are undoubtedly part of the problem and might want to start making a list of the people you owe fruit baskets.)
We are all telling ourselves stories all the time.
It’s how we make sense of the more-or-less random series of events that make up our lives—we create narrative arcs that forge continuity from discontinuity, that make meaning from the chaos.
We people our stories with characters, too. We collide with other humans and sometimes we react; we name these reactions from a handy list provided at birth by our cultures. Abe is my brother. Jane is my friend. Ahmet is my boyfriend. Fred is my enemy.
If you read one thing today, make it Meghan O’Rourke on grief and learning to live with loss
Now me? I’m with DeLillo.
Yes, eternal life on earth is problematic: there would be a serious shortage of parking spaces for our sweet rocket-cars if we all got to live forever AND procreate.
The pragmatics aren’t in the scope of discourse here, though. Wish-fulfillment is clearly what’s on the table—and if we’re rubbing the bottle, I wish for some negotiating power over my own mortality.
Fuck the beauty of transience. Of all the overused tropes, that one might just be the one that makes me feel the most stabby. Is the Great Wall beautiful because of its transience? No. It’s beautiful because of its colossal un-fucking-transience. Its willful, magnificent, gleeful middle-finger to the temporal.
O’Rourke, according to Maria Popova’s “How We Grieve: Meghan O’Rourke on the Messiness of Mourning and Learning to Live with Loss,” says that “researchers now think that some people are inherently primed to accept their own death with ‘integrity’ …while others are primed for ‘despair.’”
I’m gonna have to see some data on that. Because that sounds like warmed-over Erikson to me, and his “stage” theory of personality development is as ancient, irrelevant, and unsupported by creditable research as any other stage theory. Unless by the addition of the word “primed” O’Rourke means to indicate that recent research has turned up some genetic predisposition for people to drift into these two categories?
Okay. I guess I don’t care, ultimately. I lose interest when she goes on to say “Most of us, though, are somewhere in the middle, and one question researchers are now focusing on is: How might more of those in the middle learn to accept their deaths?”
We already know the answer to this question.
Or, okay, drugs. Of whatever flavor ya favor: Zoloft, Jack and coke, weed, Christianity, Buddhism, transcendental meditation, pop psychology—anything that lets you get in there and jimmy those neural pathways so that you no longer associate death with fear and anger but instead associate it with some pleasant philosophical resignation.
But even if you put a pig in a prom dress, when it comes time to dance, you’ll still be dancing with a pig.
And the truth is that total annihilation sucks, no matter what it’s come to the dance wearing.
Having Bawls shipped to me by the case is expensive. So when I place an order, twice a year, I order cans—they’re a better value than the bottles. But have you seen the bottles?
Very few of you have. I know this because very few of you drank Bawls when it was widely available—when I could walk into nearly any convenience store, gas station, or liquor store and secure this elixir of the gods. Which is what led to the current situation—the faithful struggling along on shipments by the case and every once in a great while stumbling across a gourmet shop or computer accessories store that still stocks it.
Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.
~Jaan Paul Sartre
If you’re going to look it squarely in the eye and acknowledge that any narrative of meaning for your life that comes from outside yourself is just a fairytale—well, you can be pardoned, I think, for occasional cloudy days.
But what to do about your cloudy days?
These fucking women and their fucking diets.
If I had ten million dollars and immunity I’d like to believe that the first thing I’d do is something that would actually change the world for the better—like quit my job and spend my days tracking and killing everyone who thinks The Fountainhead is good literature—but I suspect that what I would really do is this: kidnap the women I work with and drop them off in rural Nigeria without any ID, cash, or credit cards and let them find out what it means to be hungry. I mean, okay, they can have a bodyguard who hovers in the distance to make sure they aren’t actually raped and murdered, but short of that, it’s off they go to live the lives of rural Nigerian women.
Those last five vanity pounds will drop away like magic!
My co-worker, G, brought in some Saunders salted caramels yesterday. Her husband had bought them and, she explained, she didn’t want them all at the house, tempting her…calling to her….she doesn’t need that kind of derailment of her steady devotion to her health and her figure.
Across the hall, I could have spoken the lines along with the players—this is a cloying, repetitive farce played out in nearly every American workplace where more than two vaginas are gathered.
Hey, Doctor E, here’s that blog you’ve been saying I should start. Eight months of cheerful suggestions finally bear fruit. You’re going to be really proud.
So when I opened the front door of my apartment building after work today I was greeted with this: a family feeding their toddler dinner on the steps that lead down to the lower floor.
Hell, yes, the mother and the little girl were seated, and hell, yes, there were plates and a sippy cup. Why wouldn’t there be?