10.06.2013

"Dating Tips for the Feminist Man"

I haven't blogged in forever, but maybe it's time to start again. Okay, maybe that's overly ambitious. Maybe it's time to post just one thought. It's been awhile!

Yes to this. Some parts may not apply directly to the men that I date for various reasons, but other parts do, including the following:
  • "Do not run away if things get uncomfortable or you start to feel emotions that confuse you."
  • "If you are in a conflict with this person due to tangled emotions, pick a process and, if you need it, a friend to help."
  • "If you want to be a good male ally, get comfortable with changing emotions - yours and the other person's, and good at talking about them as they change. Life is messy; we have to be able to move with changes as they happen. This comfort is necessary in order to be honest with the other person, and to create shared expectations so no one ends up feeling used or played." [Editorial note: Don't break up with the person because you aren't sure how you feel and you don't want to "lead her on." If you aren't sure how you feel, tell her. Maybe she'll say: "That's okay. I'm not entirely sure, either. Let's keep dating while we figure it out." Or maybe she'll say, "Thank you for letting me know. I need someone who is sure that he likes me. Let's break up." I don't think she'll say, "Why did you lead me on for the past 24 hours when I was sure that you were madly in love with me and we were headed straight to the huppah?" (The next part of the piece says exactly this.)]
  • "Do not tell someone you're serious about them or planning to follow up with them romantically if you're actually not sure."
  • "If your feelings change, simply name the change. If you were interested in a possible partnership or in an ongoing relationship, and then aren’t or are less sure, and you feel bad about that, do not avoid saying so to make your life easier. Just name the emotion and be available and present to the changes in the other."
  • "Stretch yourself."
  • "Give up on trying to be perfect. It just gets in the way. Get used to process. You fuck up, you learn, you grow."
  • "You can take space to get your head clear so you can listen and know yourself better - but that kind of space is measured in hours, or at most days. If you want 'space' measured in weeks or months, you're not taking space, you're avoiding responsibility."
  • " If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice that this is sexism. You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others. Emotion and intuition, when finely honed, serve clear thinking. Don't retreat into your head or use logic to disconnect from empathy when you find emotions coming your way; clear thinking is informed by ethics and compassion. Build up your capacity to feel and to respond to feelings in a rational, intuitive, self-aware way."
A lot of this advice would be well-heeded by me, by non-feminist men, by non-feminist women, and by people not currently in the dating world. All around, I would say that it's good life advice.

2.05.2012

"What It Is To Be A Jew," by Mrs. Minnie D. Louis (1895)

This is what's awesome about being a graduate student. Finding (horrifying) stuff like this!

Source: Louis, Minnie D., “What It Is To Be a Jew,” Souvenir Book of the Fair in Aid of the Educational Alliance and Hebrew Technical Institute. (New York: De Leeuw & Oppenheimer, 1895). Electronic reproduction. (New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2006), p. 142.

Read more about Minnie D. Louis here, in the Jewish Women's Archive encyclopedia entry.

Also, here is a line drawing of her from a New York Times article:
Source: “Louis Down-Town School: Splendid Results of a Work That Was Begun by a Woman. Hard Fight, then Great Victory. Results of Work Among Hebrews in the Lower Districts—Making Americans of Foreigners’ Children.” New York Times. June 16, 1895. (online abstract of article)

Do you know what's not awesome about being in graduate school? No time to blog!

Also, I may have lost the ability to write coherently. Or maybe that's just exhaustion speaking.

11.30.2011

A Day On the Subway: Follow-Up

At long last! A follow up to this post from more than two months ago. I am sorry for the delay. This is what happened, as much as I can recall at this late date.
I was on the subway this morning, late to a meeting. As I got on, I noticed a man occupying three seats. (He was sitting in one and a half and had his bag on the third.) I had to stand for a bit, until someone else got off, in order to sit. Before someone else got off, I thought about asking him to move his bag, but realized that he seemed to be down on his luck, so decided not to bother him. As I stood up to get off at my stop, he first fell sideways, into the empty seat beside him, and then off the seat entirely, on to the floor. The teenagers near me tittered and got off, but I said, "Sir, sir" to him as loudly as I could muster to try to wake him up. He did not move or appear responsive to me. But I was late for a meeting! And this was my stop! What would you do?
I got off the train after seeing that someone else was trying to wake the man, and telling someone in the next car what had happened. By the time I hurriedly left the scene, other responsible citizens were on it. I think that I thought about alerting a subway official, maybe upstairs as I walked out, but I was leaving from an unstaffed entrance, so that didn't happen. Also, it seemed that the train conductor might already be aware of the situation, since the train was delayed in the station. Oh, right! Some other people called out from the open doors, to the conductor, "Someone needs help here!" I think. In any case, by the time I left, it was clear that others were involved and feeling responsible and actually acting on that feeling of responsibility towards their fellow citizen.

This experience so bothered me--mostly that the teenagers would titter and get off the train, although, also, to a lesser extent, that I hadn't stayed to help--that when I heard that a man was lying on the front steps of my apartment building on Thanksgiving afternoon, I rushed down and tried to see if he was okay. Again, I said loudly, "Sir, sir, are you okay?" No response. A fire truck went by and still no response. He was lying there, not moving. I called 9-1-1, but before the call was completed, an ambulance pulled up and some EMTs jumped out. They took his pulse and he didn't move. One of them shook him, and he jumped up immediately and said that he was fine. They asked him where he lived and things like that, and I went back inside to continue my Thanksgiving cooking.
On the next train that I was on, a bit later that day, I saw a credit card on the floor, halfway under a seat. A few people were standing near it; I wasn't sure which of them had dropped it. Then I looked up and saw a woman standing with her wallet open, looking for something in it. It was a somewhat crowded car and there were several people between me and her, but I didn't want her to get off the train with her credit card still on the floor. What would you do?
As far as I can recall, I told her about her fallen credit card and she didn't care. I have no idea what was up with that. Other people were similarly confused. I guess it wasn't a credit card, but something else? Trash that she was discarding from her wallet? Someone else's lost credit card, perhaps? I don't know. It was crowded and I did not investigate further.
As you get off the train, you notice that something is dripping out of the plastic bag that the woman in front of you is holding. She seems to be carrying a lot--a backpack, a purse, multiple plastic bags. You have no idea what it is, but it looks pretty gross. Is it really any of your business what's leaking out of someone else's plastic bag? Maybe she knows and doesn't care. What would you do?
I was the person carrying a bunch of stuff, and someone pointed out the leak, and I was so grateful and appreciative. A container of salad dressing had opened up in my plastic lunch bag and was dripping and it was disgusting, but I was able to save the situation by going to the nearest trash can in the subway station, disposing of the offending leaking substance, throwing out the now-gross plastic bag, and putting my other food, some of it still ungreased, into another plastic bag that I had on me. Then I could go about my day. Nothing got on my clothes or on anyone's property, including the MTA's. Win!
You see someone crying at a Starbucks as she puts milk and sugar into her coffee. What would you do?
This was me. I was crying at Starbucks. That's where I rushed after I got off the first subway, and I was totally emotionally overwhelmed and feeling terrible about being late to my meeting and I just started crying. It was really, really nice that two people (not one, but two!) asked me if I was okay and if there was anything they could do to help.

Lesson: New York City has a reputation for being large, harsh, and rude, but there can, at times, be something charmingly caring about it. Strangers taking care of strangers, in tiny little ways, every day. If you live here, and see someone in distress or with something dripping, say something. It's what makes living here moderately tolerable!

9.19.2011

A Day on the Subway

I was on the subway this morning, late to a meeting. As I got on, I noticed a man occupying three seats. (He was sitting in one and a half and had his bag on the third.) I had to stand for a bit, until someone else got off, in order to sit. Before someone else got off, I thought about asking him to move his bag, but realized that he seemed to be down on his luck, so decided not to bother him. As I stood up to get off at my stop, he first fell sideways, into the empty seat beside him, and then off the seat entirely, on to the floor. The teenagers near me tittered and got off, but I said, "Sir, sir" to him as loudly as I could muster to try to wake him up. He did not move or appear responsive to me. But I was late for a meeting! And this was my stop! What would you do?

On the next train that I was on, a bit later that day, I saw a credit card on the floor, halfway under a seat. A few people were standing near it; I wasn't sure which of them had dropped it. Then I looked up and saw a woman standing with her wallet open, looking for something in it. It was a somewhat crowded car and there were several people between me and her, but I didn't want her to get off the train with her credit card still on the floor. What would you do?

As you get off the train, you notice that something is dripping out of the plastic bag that the woman in front of you is holding. She seems to be carrying a lot--a backpack, a purse, multiple plastic bags. You have no idea what it is, but it looks pretty gross. Is it really any of your business what's leaking out of someone else's plastic bag? Maybe she knows and doesn't care. What would you do?

You see someone crying at a Starbucks as she puts milk and sugar into her coffee. What would you do?

This all happened to or around me in the past twelve hours. A day in the life, as it were. A follow-up post with what I or others did will appear at some point in the hopefully-not-too-distant future.

9.09.2011

9/11/2011

I was trying to figure out what to do on Sunday in commemoration of 9/11, and nothing that came into my inbox felt right. There was a morning of community service planned in my local Jewish community, which included cleaning up parks and preparing synagogues for high holiday services, but it conflicted with another engagement and it didn't strike as what I most wanted to do. Somehow, hanging out with local Washington Heights Jews felt wrong in commemoration of the day of chaos and bewilderment that I experienced in New York City ten years ago today. It feels too parochial, somehow.

Another thing is that I am back at school. The last full school year in which I was sitting in a classroom, taking notes for classes I was taking for academic credit, began in September 2001. In fact, it began on September 11, 2001. I keep finding myself dating things 9/6/01 instead of 9/6/11 (etc.). It's a weird feeling.

I wrote about my experiences in NYC on 9/11/01 here, in 2006. That was the only year in which I wrote about it, I think, in the 6+ years since I began this blog. It was the fifth anniversary of 9/11. In short, on September 11, 2001, I did some early-morning thesis research at the Barnard Archives and was told, while paying for my microfilm, that a plane (or two planes?) had hit the World Trade Center. I was imagining a little, tiny plane. I got on the subway to head to Penn Station to get my train to Boston, where I needed to arrive by the afternoon to register for the classes for my senior year of college. The subway stopped at 42nd St. and wouldn't go further downtown. I got out and walked down to 34th St. Eventually, I got on the first Amtrak train that was leaving NYC for points north later that afternoon, and when I got back to Boston, I went straight to the campus Hillel, where everyone was glued to the television. I was not really clear on what had happened until a bit later than everyone else, since word on the street in NYC was scattered and confused. I watched some TV at an appliance store in Penn Station, and some people on the street turned their car radios on and opened all their car doors for people to listen. But I didn't have the trauma of one tower falling and then another tower falling. I had no idea. All I knew was chaos and confusion and that something bad was going on. Although I didn't know how bad. On the streets of New York, I watched people stream up from downtown, shaken and bewildered and sharing cell phones to try to call loved ones.

I don't know what to do or say or even really feel. I have the feeling that I get sometimes of simultaneously being in two different places in space-time. Here in NYC, downtown, in September 2011, and in midtown in September 2001. It's a weird feeling. Maybe I will write more on Sunday.

9.05.2011

Blast from the past...

Uterine Wars posted an article about "ghost blogs" from 2007, which asserts that blogging would become less popular starting in 2007. (Note that this is also Uterine War's goodbye post.)

The line that gave me the most pause was "[He] has not been heard from for more than two months, the point at which most analysts consider a blog to be defunct."

If that's the case, then this blog has been defunct many times over! Has it been? Maybe.

8.02.2011

When I was in school...

I'm going back to school. There, I said it. It's been eight and a half years. I expect things to be different this time around, and it's making me feel a little bit old.

For example, will the kids be taking notes on computers, not in notebooks? When I was in college, I had a laptop, but other students had desktops. It was not the norm to bring a computer to class--at all. (The laptop that I had freshman year was my uncle's hand-me-down that sometimes shut down suddenly in the middle of work and could only be turned on again by taking the battery out and slamming it back in, hard. So I did a lot of my work in the computer lab that year.)

When I was in college, all of the dorms had ethernet (as opposed to dial-up--remember that?), but wireless didn't arrive on campus until my senior year, and then only one library was equipped (as far as I recall). I babysat for a family that had wireless at home and I remember thinking that it was crazy to be able to connect to the internet without a cord! Like, just nuts! (The paterfamilias was a computer science professor, so it made sense that they were wireless earlier than most.) When I lived off campus my senior year, I had dial-up at home. I remember fiddling with TCP/IP settings.

I just signed some federal loan agreements, and whoa, have they overhauled that system! Back in my day, you went to the bursar (I think?) on the first day of school and signed some papers. I don't think I even read them, at least not after the first time I signed them, freshman year. They said to pay back the loans after graduation. End of story. Now, they make you take a 16-screen quiz before you can borrow money. I was grumbling all the way, because it was extremely boring and I needed to answer their insipid questions and then scroll up each time to close the window that automatically opened to grade my response, but I actually learned some things about my loans that I didn't know, in addition to some repayment incentives that either didn't exist when I was paying back undergraduate loans or that I didn't know about. (They may not exist for long, anyway. See this. Or maybe grad students won't be able to get subsidized loans at all. That seems like a stupid decision to me. Isn't more education good for growing the economy, inventing things, running things more efficiently, etc.? Although I do agree that going to college is more crucial than going to grad school.)

What other changes will I notice when I return to campus this fall?