Archive | Feminist Matters

Home of the Heart

Last night I had the anxiety dream about homelessness that I’ve anticipated since losing my jobs last spring.

I rarely talk about my fear of homelessness, especially with married friends. When I do, they say things like, “You won’t be homeless. You can stay with us.”

When I report their assurances to my shrink, a practical woman who knows from rough times, she raises her eyebrows. “People think they’re being supportive,” she says. “But staying on their couch would not be the same thing as having a home. Minimizing your valid fears is not helpful.”

My shrink never sweetens realities. Maybe she does with other people, but she is well-acquainted with my capacity to om-shanthi myself right into destitution. I’ve done it before.

It reminds me of a joke I tell clients. Continue Reading →

Kinsey Millhone Is My Kind of Dick

One very terrible summer, I was jobless, in the wake of a breakup, and looking at the wrong side of thirty-five. “I don’t know what to do with myself,” I told a librarian friend. “Read the Kinsey Millhone mysteries,” she said. “They’re bestsellers for a reason and there’s a ton of them.”

By the summer’s end, lone-wolf private detective Kinsey had become my first fictional bestie since I’d ostensibly grown out of rereading Harriet the Spy. Grumpy, idiosyncratic, and eminently decent, the subject of Sue Grafton’s bestselling alphabet series is the sort of tough-guy tomboy rarely found outside of children’s literature, to all of our detriment. Like the love child of Mickey Spillane and Ramona Quimby, Kinsey suffers no fools and is only partially domesticated. Orphaned young, divorced twice, and child-free, she’s a former cop who prefers pickle and peanut butter sandwiches over salads, lifts free weights, cuts her own hair with nail scissors, and owns only one dress–a wrinkle-resistant black number for when she can’t get away with jeans and turtlenecks. She lives with Japanese bobtail cat Ed in a garage apartment owned by her best friend Henry, an eighty-eight-year-old retired baker who designs crossword puzzles, and she regularly swills cheap white wine and frightening goulash at the local tavern with a handful of cops whom she sometimes dates and often consults in the delightfully lo-fi world of 1980s Santa Teresa, a fictionalized Southern California town resembling Santa Barbara, where Grafton lives part-time. Continue Reading →

Emily Dickinson Out of Time

Her story has become as iconic as that of Vincent Van Gogh and his cut-off ear. She was the Belle of Amherst, the woman in white who locked herself away in the family attic, scribbling sheaves of poems that were never published until she passed from this earth. She was, of course, Emily Dickinson, and if anything, she thrives more today than she ever did while alive. Volumes have been generated about her volumes, and this year alone she was the subject of the Terence Davies biopic, “A Quiet Passion,” and of the exhibition “I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson” at New York’s Morgan Library and Museum. Her lines – breathless, flashing, and eminently em-dashed – are quoted with an unflagging regularity, and she’s upheld by feminist scholars and modernists alike as a godmother of sorts. (She was never the type to be a grandmother.) Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy