How it felt to attend Emerging Women Live in San Francisco last week [If you have missed the conference, you can listen to the talks if you sign up for live stream. It’s available for the next 30 days].
I’m looking at my mother and touching her hand, but she doesn’t look back at me. She stays still, folded on herself, her back bent forward, looking down; then she shuts her eyes as hard as she can. She is trying to keep out the sounds and the images that seem to attack her from the outside. The world around her is frightening. Elvira tells me that my mother no longer wants to leave the house. The familiar and comforting meaning of things seems lost to her. Sometimes the world falls on her as a wall of noise, loud and unpleasant. All she can do is shutting it off.
I’m sitting with my mother in her kitchen in Rome, at the white folding table she bought many years ago (in the world of my parents, I notice, things last much longer; they are so much more permanent than mine). I’ve always liked this tiled room, all white and aqua and filled with light (the Roman light: open, merciless, and with a weightless quality I’ve not found anywhere else.)
She is wearing a white nightgown, a long burgundy robe, and a shawl of the same color. “She is always cold,” tells me Elvira. She also tells me that my mother doesn’t want to take baths. She used to take her clothes off, before they changed her medications.
I know she still recognizes me: she lets me sit close to her and talk to her. Occasionally, she does look in my eyes. Then she says: “Andiamo,” let’s go. I take her hand, which is cold, and we start walking in a circle through the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the hallway that goes by her bathroom and her bedroom, then the kitchen again. We go around and around at a slow, careful pace that reminds me of walking meditation. It is walking meditation: I try to be present. I try to feel her. What is left of her, I notice myself thinking.
I’ve been tagged by Nick Barrowman at Log base 2, with the historical figure meme. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to pick a historical figure and list 5 random/weird things about this person.
I had to think really hard to pick my favorite historical figure. I don’t think I can name my favorite ice-cream flavor, let alone a favorite historical figure. I thought about William James, because when he was at Harvard he was a buddy of Charles Pierce, which is the historical figure chosen by Nick.
But–sorry Bill–it ought to be a woman. A crowd of bad-behaved women came to mind:
- Emmeline Pankhurst (“Be militant each in your own way. I incite this meeting to rebellion.”)
- Rosa Parks (“When they stood up and I stayed where I was, he asked me if I was going to stand and I told him that ‘no, I wasn’t,’ and he told me if I did not stand up he was going to have me arrested. And I told him to go on and have me arrested.”)
- Anaïs Nin (“I disregard the proportions, the measures, the tempo of the ordinary world. I refuse to live in the ordinary world as ordinary women. To enter ordinary relationships. I want ecstasy.”)
- Josephine Baker (“I wasn’t really naked. I simply didn’t have any clothes on.”), and
- Rachel Carson (“The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man.”)
I wonder why I thought of them. I suspect that it’s because women need to be good to the point of sanctitude or quite bad to become historically famous. And bad girls tend to be more interesting.
So I picked the baddest woman on the block, Mary Jane West, know to the world as Mae West. I’m pretty sure she counts as an historical figure. She was born two centuries ago–exactly on August 17, 1893. And everybody who is still famous after so many years deserves her place in History, wouldn’t you say? [or shall I say Herstory?].
For the few people who don’t know already (it’s amazing how fast news spread in human communities!), yesterday I left my company of six years. You may remember how some time ago I was musing on the benefits of going to work each day if it were your last day. I was wrong. Do not … Read more…
Paradise, Pennsylvania, saw the nation’s third deadly school shooting in a week and the second that targeted female students. A 32-year-old man who was “acting out to achieve revenge for something that happened 20 years ago,” let the boys leave, tied the girls, all between 6 and 13 years old, and then shot them in … Read more…
According to the reports and my first-hand experience, the 700 and some women bloggers who attended Blogher06 were a diverse bunch. It wasn’t so much because of diversity in race, sexual orientation, or age. People who attended Blogher05 say that if anything this year’s conference seemed somewhat more “heteronormative” (they also say that Blogher can be as diverse as we all can make it; we just have to speak up). Blogher06 got itself in trouble because it pulled together people with more different backgrounds, skills, interests, and goals than your average conference.
There were women geeks, technology-centric gals (but fewer than in true hi-tech conferences, some complained); there were women writers (people who talked of “copy” referring to online content); there were many mommy bloggers. There were those who wanted to make the world a better place, trigger social change, and build communities; there were those who wanted to make their blog into a business that could pay their bills.
Wendy Piersall founded eMomsatHome.com in early 2006. On her site, Wendy shares tips and insights on how to start and run a home-based business and writes on the challenges and rewards of working from home.
Wendy has just launched BlogJolt, a project aimed at increasing traffic and visibility of blogs by women.
I’ve asked Wendy to tell me more about her business and BlogJolt.
Antonella: Wendy, tell me about eMomsatHome. Why an online business?
Wendy: Turn on the internet and you are immediately connected to the world. When my internet is down, I can be in my big house and feel totally claustrophobic.
This is my third home based business (it would be impossible for me to just be a stay at home mom – it would bore me silly). But moms, all moms, have to spend a lot of time with their families. So they have precious little time to connect with other adults – which I can also say from experience keeps us sane…