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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Time Starved

It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.

One of the aspects of the alleged IM is her symbiotic, supportive, egalitarian and ravenously sexual  relationship with her mate. Male or female, the relationship with her mate, according to popular interpretation, is supposed to be hugely satisfactory to both parties, and, although she of course doesn’t “need” a mate, she has found her perfect helpmate in her chosen partner.

I will confess that one of my deepest and most often felt failures is my failure to be the spouse I always thought I would be. I don't mean to let Hubband entirely off of the hook, as occasionally he can be infuriating (intentionally or unintentionally) to the point of making my head explode, but I always thought that I would be the wife that indulged her husband's eccentricities with love, finding them "endearing" rather than "infuriating."  I am, apparently, not that indulgent.
This, I am sure, will be the topic of many posts, and a huge chapter in the book. But this week I tracked one aspect of our relationship: time spent together. It brought the reality of the challenge we face into stark relief. I realized that, in seven whole days, my spouse and I spent a grand total of 284 minutes, or 4 hours and 45 minutes, together. None of this time was spent alone, without Sprout or at least one other person in the vicinity.  (Data control: I counted all time that we were awake, and in the same room or within a 20 ft radius of one another.)  Time spent together per day was as follows:
Monday: 47 minutes
Tuesday: 1 hr 42 minutes (this should really only be counted for half, as this entire time we were at the birthday party of a mutual friend. Although we were within the required 20 ft radius, we were almost exclusively speaking to other people.)
Wednesday: 17 minutes (speaking in whispers outside of Sprout's door while he fell asleep.)
Thursday: 10 minutes in the morning.
Friday: 0 minutes (I had a 24-hour tour of duty)
Saturday: Approx. 1 hour
Sunday: As I type this: 48 minutes.
I fully realize that some of this is our own making (I chose to sleep when I got back from duty, he chose to go hunting today) but we can't entirely exclude the activities we enjoy doing to simply sit and stare at eachother. That said, some staring at eachother certainly wouldn't hurt. It is certainly a function of the overextension of the female role(s) versus the (at least in the current scientific age) non-elastic time-space continuum. (String theorists, please forego commenting on my misapprehension of time and space. I'm a lawyer and an author- in large part because I am bad at math.)  But how can one be expected to have a complete and fulfilling relationship in approximately the time it takes to watch a James Cameron movie? It's like my Dad used to say with regard to raising kids "The whole 'quality time' movement is bullshit. You can't schedule quality time, you can only spend quantity time, so that you're there when it turns into quality time." Amen, Dad. I get it.

At this rate it will only take 6 years, 8 months for me to master the skill of "spouse." 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Immune System Fail.

Sorry everyone, I've gone all systems down for the last two days. I'll be up and running tomorrow.

Let me say how overwhelmed and grateful I am for the amazing response we've gotten to this site. In only one week, we've have over 770 views, and have 23 followers (if you don't "follow" yet, please do!) You have shared your stories and insight- you have challenged some of my assertions, and made it clear that this is not just a "me" phenomenon. In fact, almost every single response I've gotten has made it clear that this is a "we" phenomenon.

This project has really taken off, thanks to you. Keep it coming.

In the meantime, let me share today's parenting fail.  This is what happens when you can't get off the couch to keep eyes on Sprout at-all-times.  Baby's first sleeve. We're very proud.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daily Fail

Took Sprout over to the neighbor's for dinner and a bath. Sprout shat in the neighbor's tub.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Insight occurs in mysterious places. I decided to pay attention today to every mental “fail” I gave myself today. Last night I had insomnia and was awake for most of the time from 0130 on. Nonetheless, as my alarm rang at 0600 this morning and I hit the snooze for a little longer, in my brain clicked: “FAIL”.  Eyes snapped open as I realized: Many of our “fails” are directly a result of permitting ourselves to engage our survival instinct.

Take the very first level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, without which, one is unable to progress to any of the other levels on the pyramid: air, food, water, sleep, sex. Apply this to many of the predominant areas of failure for the modern female. For instance, we need to eat to live. Evolution dictates that we seek high-calorie/high-fat foods. Yet, when we engage that instinct (by eating a cheeseburger or chocolate cake), we designate it a failure. We need sleep to survive, but I have yet to meet a woman who can honestly say “I get enough sleep every night.” In fact, while I was in law school, sleep was the sworn enemy, the devil, a foe to be fought with all the weapons in one’s arsenal. If one yielded to sleep, one fell into the abyss only while screaming and scratching fingernails on the floor, and one disciplined oneself to reemerge in a time span easily measured in minutes.

Control of the body is a fundamental means for enacting social power. If we return to the basis of western culture within the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is the failure of the original female- Eve- who tempts Adam with her beauty and sensuality to commit sin. Women’s bodies are therefore imperfect in that they entice men into sin and unholy relations. Eve’s appeal is her beauty, which is based in lust, and women are inherently temptresses, and therefore sinful by nature. God’s curse for her sin is that she will experience pain in childbirth- so from the jump women are inferiorized (because we are weak and more prone to sin) and deprived of reproductive control over our own bodies.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Defining the Spectre

"So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself."

                 - Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chap. 3

Know thy enemy. Let's talk for a minute about the "ideal" woman.  In the case at hand, conceptualizing of the "ideal" woman, i.e. the woman against whom we measure our shortcomings, as the "enemy" may just be helpful. Let's examine just who we feel or have been told we should be (Later we will dig into the origins of this "ideal," and why this bitch has such a hold on our collective psyche). 

My "ideal woman," or Ideal Me (IM) in my mind is almost always wearing oversized cableknit cardigans with pockets and has days filled with diffuse, golden light. She wakes up in the morning, before anyone else is up (I at least have this part down) and puts on a pot of coffee. She then meditates, or does yoga. She then may go for a run. She calmly plans her day in an organized, leather-bound franklin covey binder. She showers (using high-quality, nature friendly products), she eats an organic, balanced, nutritionally recommended breakfast...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Daily Fail

I decide to indulge my inner June Cleaver and attempt to actually make dinner after work today. Braxton walks in the door "Mommy, what are you doing?"  "I'm making dinner." "Oh... what's that?"

Mama fail.

Holy. Moly.

Holy Moly. So, I may be on to something here. Let's look at some of the very first responses to this idea:

"you just reminded me of how I have been meaning to write a book :) I couldn't agree more with the importance of the project.

I can relate on every level. Why don't I speak more languages? when I walk into a book store I feel behind in my reading... I run a company but think that I should be talking extra project management classes etc etc. I have been doing a lot of interviewing for my firm lately and spoke to an interviewing expert who told me that you should always look for signs of slight insecurity in your candidates because it means they will push themselves more than you could ever and it is a strong indentifier of overachievers..."

"It's taken me a huge amount of time to realize that a) I have an imposter complex about many things, and b) much of what I have achieved is to prove my worth to other people.

I'm currently in a state of attempting to figure out what *I* want to do and what makes *me* happy and fulfilled, not just what society wants.

But still, when I "quit" or opt out of a "success", I struggle with what the worse sin is: to fail other people's expectations? or to fail myself."

"After failing miserably at making breakfast this morning (coordinating eggs, bacon & potatoes is too much, apparently), I am off to try banana bread. The eggs are organic but who knows how guilty I should feel about the sugar and bananas? F&#@ it. The graduate student guilt I feel about making bread instead of writing is enough for tonight. No, it is not just you."

"she's really onto something that is, all at once, true, tragic, and hilarious."

I personally know all of the women quoted above to be crazy-high achievers: Valedictorians, Summa Cum Laude, Doctoral Candidates in physics or chemistry or equally and intensely difficult, officers in the military. All have higher education and most higher degrees. Could it be that the more successful a woman is, the more of a failure she feels?

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I am an attorney. I am sought by my clients for my ability to listen to their stories, spot legal issues, and take swift and effective legal action on their behalf in order to solve their problems. I am reasonably sought after, and fairly well respected in my profession.  I am also fully qualified to lead a Company of Marines into battle, shoot a man from 500 yards, or call for air-support from an F-18. I am good at what I do.

And yet, last Friday night, at 9 p.m., I was at Walgreens, in my pajamas and rain boots, toting a cranky child with no shoes, buying diapers. Yes, husband, using the last diaper IS relevant information that should be passed to the other spouse sometime before said spouse has bathed, wrangled, jammied and read-to the said named diaper-wearing offspring.

How can I plan and execute the envelopment of the enemy, or the prosecution of an entire trial, but cannot manage to keep the staples necessary to avoid pants-shitting in my home? It can't just be me. It cant. just. be. me.

Can it? Be honest: When is the last time you ran out of something in your home, and why?

The Modern Failure.

It started as a pretty simple realization.

I constantly fail to live up to my expectations of myself. I envision myself as a failure, and engage in a lot of negative self-talk with regard to my perceived failures. I eat too much sugar. I'm too fat. I don't bring my own bags to the grocery store. I don't meditate every day. It's been a month since I've even looked at my yoga mat. I really should write more. I don't play with my kid enough. I should WANT to play cars on the floor. I don't want to play cars on the floor. Hide and Seek is fun for about five minutes, period. I don't walk the dog enough. I pick at my face too much- it makes my skin break out. I should cook more homemade meals. I should be knitting more. I should practice the violin- I don't have any music in my life. I don't do enough "cultural" things. I am not working out right. I should drink more water. I should buy more organic food. My house should be clean. I should have more (organic, homecooked) dinner parties. And on, and on, and on.

The realization that I came to was this: I have a lot of third-party accreditations: I have run marathons and triathlons. I am a black belt in Martial Arts.  I have finished a half-ironman competition. I have a cute kid and a supportive husband.  I have a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. I have made it through the most difficult and rigorous selection and training process in America, to become an officer in the military. I have acquitted myself well in every billet to which I have been assigned. And I realized, if I feel like a failure from the moment I wake up, IT CAN'T JUST BE ME.

As I began to talk to other women, friends, relatives, strangers, I discovered something. It is an increasingly universal and deeply perplexing phenomenon among modern women: the sneaky feeling of failure. Whether it's the ivy-league educated attorney that served neon colored store-bought cupcakes for her child's birthday celebration (not home made? Not organic? Really???), or the stay-at-home mom who just can't figure out how to apply her B.S. in Political Science to the Parent Teacher Organization, women are constantly beset by the feeling that they are not doing everything they "should" be doing.

I decided to write a book, and in it examine a number of areas in which the modern woman may feel like a failure (the workplace, the workout, the home,  pregnancy, being "green", etc), the origins of the modern woman's expectations of herself, and  why we wake up every day feeling like we are already behind. 

In conjunction, I have started this blog. The purpose of this blog is twofold. First, as a place of sharing our experiences and hopefully achieving my favorite feeling of "holy shit, it's not just me." Second, as a gathering place for our stories and thoughts, that I will use (with your permission!) in my book "The Modern Failure."

I want to hear from you. I want to gather your stories. Thank you for reading.